Sunday, February 10, 2013

Who Is My Neighbor? Some irrepressible thoughts.

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

A man in Jacksonville, Florida, got on his motorcycle one beautiful spring Sunday morning, and headed toward I-95. He was totally looking forward to a visit at St. Augustine National Park.

Before he was quite out of the city, an old 1972 Ford pickup rattled up behind him and pushed him into the wall of a nearby warehouse. Three men with knives and chains got out of the truck and beat and slashed the man on the bike. They took his wallet, stripped him of his clothing and all of the valuables he had. Then they left him for dead.

About an hour or so later, the pastor of a nearby mega church drove down the street on his way to worship. He slowed his pristine Honda NSX-R and looked at the man. Then he looked at his Gucci watch and shoes. He looked at the man again, and shook his head. No time, he thought. I have a lot of people waiting for me to open the Word of God for them this morning. And he moved on.

An hour later the head deacon of the First Fruits Bible Church drove down the street on his way to church. He saw the beaten man and stopped. The man’s hair was longer than the deacon’s wife’s. The deacon watched the blood drip over the big tattoo on the man's right arm, and  shook his head. This man couldn’t have been on his way to church where he should have been going; he had practically asked to be mugged. The deacon moved on. He was in charge of the church outreach programs, and they had a meeting before Sunday school that morning.

Within the hour, a Prius came down the street, and pulled over to the curb where the man lay, still bleeding. A gay black woman with a clerical collar and a Latino man who was an immigrant got out and looked at the situation. She picked up her anointing oil , some bottled water and called 911. The Latino went over and put his ear on the man’s chest. There was a faint heartbeat, though he was not conscious. The woman poured water on the unconscious man's wounds, and anointed them with oil. The Latino man covered the unconscious man with his own jacket, and watched over him. They both spoke words of comfort and hope to him until the ambulance arrived.

They  followed the wounded man to the hospital. The woman made a payment in advance on the bill, and the Latino gave all of the information they had to the police. Before they left, the woman gave the ER nurse her number to call if no family could be found, and they would see that he was cared for.

Which of these was the neighbor of the man who fell among thieves?
  Note: This is a joint writing effort with my daughter, Sarah who encouraged me to post it here.


Anna Cotton said...

Susan, thanks for writing such a contemporary take on a familiar parable. Several things stand out to me in your version of this story. How easy it is for us to blame the victim—ouch! Once we get past that piece of the story, it is your choice of helpers that grabs our attention. How easy it is for us to miss God hiding in folks we might dismiss or worse, avoid—ugh! Your story makes it all so obvious. Or is it? It seems to me our hearts can always open a bit wider, accept a bit more, and share a bit more. There is always room to grow, and we want to grow. Your creative expression has enabled us to see with fresh eyes another set of characters who can help us reconsider and reshape our responses. Thank you for sharing, and Sarah, I'm glad for your part in this, too. Blessings, Anna

David Norling said...

Since parables are meant to break down the unexamined myths and world views of those who hear them, what better way to bring them back to life than to recontextualize them into our own times.

Anna Cotton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RC said...

Very creative. Very meaningful. Thank you for posting this on Living Stones. The freshness of your adaptation of this parable for us is truly challenging. It makes me pray that I will be able to be a true neighbor to those who need me.

Rehoboth said...

Thanks, all of you. I appreciate the encouragement.


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