The Contemplative Samaritan

Life Notes—July 8, 2010 

“’Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’  He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”  Luke 16:36-37 

It happened at the large gathering of family and friends in the front yard of the home of my mother and father-in-law.  There was a 20-foot table full of food, at least half of which was a delectable assortment of homemade desserts.  Fifty-some people were eating and visiting and eating and visiting when my wife’s frail, wheelchair-bound uncle laid his head on the table and closed his eyes.  My mind went into immediate action—what should I do?  What if we need an ambulance?  What if we need to land a helicopter in this maze of people and vehicles?  What if he’s just really sad and crying—what should I do?  Do I have time for this? (I did).  I sensed something needed to be done quickly, but my first reaction was to play a bunch of possible scenarios out in my head.  Sadly, I might have talked myself out of doing anything at all. 

The scripture above is the closing passage of the parable of the Good Samaritan.  This is the story of a man traveling on the Jericho Road when he was robbed and beaten and left by the side of the road.  A number of people passed by without stopping to help, until a man from Samaria took action.  He stopped and bandaged the injured man’s wounds, took him to the next town and paid for his care.  The parable is meant to shed light on what it means to love your neighbor, as well as whom our neighbors actually are. 

While I was busy contemplating, my wife walked right over and tapped him on the shoulder, asking, “Uncle Bob, are you okay?”  He opened his eyes, raised his head and smiled, “Oh yes, I just needed a rest after eating all this good food!” 

Certainly both action and contemplation are noble and necessary human characteristics, and we all display both to greater or lesser extents.  Carrie and I are at different ends of the action-contemplation spectrum, and I admire her ability to see a need and jump into action, trusting what will be needed for the situation will materialize.  However, in an hour of need, pray to be found by an action-oriented, Good Samaritan like my wife, rather than a contemplative, Good Samaritan like myself.  A person could drown in the sea of my good intentions while I formulate the best course of action… 

There will be communion at all four services this Sunday.  Tom’s sermon title (downtown) is “For Mercy’s Sake.”  Mitch’s title (west) is “Love Means Getting Your Hands Dirty.”  Both are based on the scripture from Luke 10:25-37.  Life worship begins at 10:45 in Brady hall.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Contemporary worship at the west campus is at 9:30. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Strugglers welcome!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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