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Sermon "Compassion" - Marissa Rohrbach

Sermon "Compassion" - Marissa Rohrbach

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Published by Alan Neale
Preached at The Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia on Sunday July 14th 2013
Preached at The Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia on Sunday July 14th 2013

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Published by: Alan Neale on Jul 18, 2013
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07/22/2013

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Go and do likewise.In the name of… There’s a young woman – in her early 20s – that I’ve beentalking to a lot lately.She’s just about at that point in life where she is feelingready to make her own decisions – to really take hold of herown life.And still, every once in a while, I’ll watch as she comes to me– or to her mom – or to someone else in authority and asksthem to make the decision for her.She doesn’t do it directly – but in sort of a round about kindof way. Tell me what you would do? Tell me how to do this?Whatever the form of the question – the underlying desire isto have someone show her the right way.When in fact, we know that…the right way is something wehave to find for ourselves.We have to face the fear of the possibility of getting it wrong– and make the decision for ourselves.But it’s easier – with the tough stuff – to hope that someonewe trust will show us the right way…that someone will showus where all the danger spots are… This is exactly what the lawyer is doing in our Gospel today.He knows the law. He knows the way. But he still wants Jesusto take out the guesswork for him.
 
He wants to be assured – as we all do – that all you need todo is follow this short easy list of tasks – and poof. Eternallife.Which one of us is unlike the lawyer?He asks Jesus a question. Jesus answers it simply – and thenhe says no wait! It must be more complicated than that! Tell me exactly what I need to do…black and white lines…don’t leave anything to chance.Give me the path. Show me the way. Turn me in the rightdirection.Almost…do the work for me? The lawyer, which probably here means that he had studiedscripture a great deal – that he knew the religious law well –doesn’t want to have to navigate his faith.He wants Jesus to spell it out. To eliminate the doubt.And how does Jesus respond?Not so easily. Jesus tells a story that many of us have heard more than afew times. The story of the Good Samaritan is one of Jesus’ mostfamous parables.A man goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho and on the wayhe is stripped, beaten, robbed, and left to die.
 
Since we presume that this man is a Jewish man, we shouldbe shocked when it is not the priest – or the Levite –members of his own tribe – who stop to care for him…no it isthe Samaritan. The Samaritan and the Jews had despised each other forthousands of years before Jesus told this story.So the crowd around Jesus would have been uncomfortableas Jesus told this story.In fact, you can almost hear the lawyer’s discomfort in hisanswer – he doesn’t name the Samaritan as being the man’sneighbor – he just says “the one who showed him mercy.”So, as we often do, we find Jesus defying culture, ignoringboundaries, and trying to create a new social order.We also, though, find Jesus in this story teaching a differentimportant lesson – and its that lesson that struck me mostthis week as I thought about these texts.At the end of our passage today from Colossians, Paul writesthat we have been rescued from the power of darkness andtransferred into the Kingdom of God.Rescued from the power of darkness and transferred into thekingdom of God…thus enabled, because we have beenforgiven, to share in the inheritance of the saints of light.Now but not yet of Paul. Jesus’ parable today shows us what the kingdom of Godlooks like – shows us what we should BE like if we have beentransferred into the kingdom of God.

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