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Showing posts from July, 2010

They Desire a Better Country

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Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

This passage begins with a discourse answering an implied question: “What is faith?” And we hear a well-known answer, often quoted when speaking of faith: it is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1, NRSV).

There is no mistaking the importance of faith in Christian community, and it’s good to know what we mean when we use this powerful word. Yet there are two key things to be careful of in reading this passage.

First, “faith” is often invoked as an antidote to reality, belief in spite of the evidence. But this passage does not quite say that. It only says that we trust in, we look towards, and we set our hearts upon things which we know, but which are not yet in view.

There are plenty of things which are invisible whose existence we do not doubt. While 7/8s of an iceberg is under water, we understand that what is unseen is still there. We do not see the wind, but when we feel it on our cheek or …

Prayer for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Good God, we overhear Jesus telling a story to a lawyer, and wonder where we fit in. We like to imagine that we are the good neighbor, glossing over the Samaritan part.

Yet if truth be told we have preyed on others (and are thus robbers) and we have ignored those in need, for very good reasons I'm sure (choosing again and again to live in stand-by mode).

And even in these roles we find more comfort than identifying with the man in the ditch, beaten down, on our way to death, and unable to restore ourselves.

Lead to us the blessing of one (thousands if you can manage it) who will take our care upon them and bring us to a place where we may be healed. And help us to make that blessing ours, that we may share it with others, outcast to outcast, in your name, which is mercy. Amen.

The Parable of the Good Neighbor (Luke 10:25-37)
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Martin Luther King and the Good Samaritan

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Martin Luther King, Jr. often referred to the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). While King’s interpretation of the parable evolved over time, he maintained a consistent focus on the way the parable allows us to examine the obligations owed to one another, provided an enduring way to read this text.

King had a sermon on the topic which he used frequently. "Who Is My Neighbor?" highlights the question asked of Jesus. Jesus’ questioner, a lawyer, is testing Jesus and testing the limits of what Jesus’ God requires. They are agreed that loving God and neighbor is essential. But how far does this go?

In 1964, in a sermon preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, he discerned a philosophy or motivating principle expressed in the actions of three sets of the parable’s characters. "Everyone within the sound of my voice today lives by one of these three philosophies."

1. The Robbers

Often taken for granted, the waylaying of the traveler is what makes the parab…