Year C Proper 10 Luke 10
The Good Samaritan
Luke 10:25-37

Luke 10: The parable of the Good Samaritan arises out of a discussion between Jesus and a Pharisee. Here is a religious lawyer and he is asking a question on the nature of the law. The stage is set by Luke with these words: "Behold a lawyer stood up to put him to the test." Well, it's not the first time and probably won't be the last time that a lawyer phrased a trick question. It was the kind of question in which any kind of an answer would pose still further problems. It was a test question: "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life." Now right away we know that this man was a Pharisee, because the Pharisees believed in eternal life and the Sadducees did not. Jesus could tell that this man was an astute student of the law so he asked him: "What is written?" In other words, use your own mind to discern the essence of the law. Jesus, like a good discussion leader, throws the question right back in his lap.

The lawyer had a good answer. He said: "You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and soul and mind and strength and you shall love your neighbor as yourself." This was a direct quote from Deuteronomy 6. It was part of the Shema, a confession regularly made in Jewish worship. Jesus says: "Excellent. You are correct." If he were a teacher I suppose he would have said: "You get A+." I have no complaint with this says Jesus. Do this and you shall live. You have not only penetrated to the essence of the law but you have worded it succinctly.

The question had been asked and the answer given. You would think that the man would be pleased and go home. But lawyers are never happy. A lawyer's responsibility is to define the limits of liability. "But he, desiring to justify himself, asked ‘Who is my neighbor.'" In other words, where does my responsibility stop? Who exactly am I responsible for?"

At this point, instead of further defining the question, Jesus tells a story. A way of indirect teaching.

A certain rich man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho. We can surmise that this man was probably a Jew because this was a road going right through the heart of Judea. He had probably been up to Jerusalem to worship and now he's going back to the City of Palm Trees. It was a very long serpentine road starting at Jerusalem, the highest point, 2,500 feet above sea level, and going straight down to Jericho, nearly 800 feet below Sea Level. The lowest place on the face of the earth not covered by water--the deepest city in the world.

The Jericho Road was a notoriously thief-infested stretch of rocky mountain road, a long, lonely seventeen miles crowded with caves and danger. Since the road was so often traveled by religious pilgrims and businessmen and because it was so crooked, robbers frequented the road often. In fact, the route was so ripe for pillage that it had been nicknamed "The Bloody Pass". By the time you rounded a bend the bandits were there and you really had no chance to escape. I suppose if there had been newspapers it would not have been unusual to read about the latest mugging on the Jericho Road.

And so, too, the particular traveler in Jesus story fell victim. He was ambushed, robbed, beaten, stripped, and left to die in a pool of crimson red. Now, the question in the story is who is going to stop and help? Who is it that will not fall prey to the temptation to pass by on the other side?

  1. The Priest Passes By
  2. The Levite Passes By
  3. The Samaritan Stops

Dancing with the Saints
Colossians 1:1-14

As soon as toddlers learn to "toddle," they are ready to move to music and groove to iPods.

Small children don't care if their moves are "cool." Small children don't care of they look sweet or silly as they dance to the sounds they're hearing. They just dance.

When do we start being self-conscious? We do we lose our innocence? Sometime in elementary school? I suspect it's just about the time the PE curriculum declares that it is time to teach dancing to fifth or sixth graders. Whether it is learning to square dance or folk dance or fox trot, what was so natural and carefree at two becomes exquisitely embarrassing at twelve.

I for one never moved beyond the sixth grade stumbles. [This is where you tell your own childhood dancing stories. In my personal case, as a kid growing up in the holiness church I had to bring a "prescription" to school from our family physician excusing me from dancing "for family reasons" he couldn't use the word "religious," for some reason)].

Others of you reclaimed your dancing feet in later adolescence. I suspect that even for the most cha-cha challenged here this morning, you still have a secret desire to reclaim the freedom enjoyed as a small child spinning and twirling and swaying with complete abandon to the rhythms of the music.

What else could explain the crazy popularity of a three-hour weekly ABC special called "Dancing with the Stars." Season 10 saw "Dancing with the Stars" beating "American Idol" in the ratings. Some of the "celebrity" dancers are athletes or twenty-somethings who've spent half their lives in gyms. But a large number of the contestants have been "has-beens" -- recycled, retreaded actors, entertainers, singers, celebrities whose days in the limelight have come and gone. Aging astronauts, pooped pop-stars, actors on extended hiatus, 82 year old Academy Award winning Cloris Leachman --- they all show up to show off and strut their stuff one last time. Most of the dancing "stars" have already burned out, but as they gamely give themselves over to the music (and their professional dancing partner), we find ourselves rooting for them . . . at least I do… hoping they can pull it off and find that dancing muse that guides the feet of all two-year olds.

Secretly, we all long to dance among the "stars."

Even if you know nothing about the roots of jazz, or have never listened to a Dixie-land band, it's a safe bet that you know one old standard, "When the Saints Go Marching In." And you hear Louis Armstrong singing it in your head, don't you?

Traditionally played after grave side services, when the dead are buried and the mourners leave the cemetery, the jazzy, jumping, jubilant strains of "When the Saints Go Marching In" followed the faithful out of the graveyard. Listening to that music you know that "marching" is a misnomer. Nobody could "march" to that melody.

The saints don't go marching in.

The saints go dancing in.

Dancing with the saints is what Paul invites the Colossian Christians to do in his week's epistle text... presents Leonard Sweet