18 February 2018
Induction Sermon - Pukekohe Who Is Your Neighbour
Luke 10 Good Samaritan
Keleva your task, your primary task among this people is to break open the scriptures so both you and they can know the amazing love of God here in Pukekohe and be led by that love to share it with those around you. In grief and in joy, it is your task to ensure Godís word goes out to bring life, and we are told by a wondering Prophet that Godís word will always achieve Godís purpose. That is encouraging Ė your task is to be faithful, gods task to ensure that the word achieves its purpose.
People of Pukekohe Ė your task is to be faithful to Godís Spirit within you - to be Godís loving people in this place.
But beware, for when we start to listen to even the most innocent well known stories, we find that God is bigger than we can ever imagine. We are deeply challenged in our daily lives when we realise that this loving God, who loved so deeply that there is a cross, and extreme vulnerablility at the centre of our faith - you canít really be more exposed and weak than a man stripped and beaten and left to die can you? And we are asked to follow this way.
It is so tempting to make it fit what we want to hear. It is so tempting to make the good news not be offensive, to fit Joh or Mary or Sueís expectations, so they donít get upset by the amazing overwhelming love of God. For we do not limit where and when God will work and with whom, the spirit of God goes where it will..
And that is worrying to a lawyer in the story you know so well. IF you are a person who likes everything sorted , then donít mess with god because God is very nessy.
Itís a simple question? Who is my neighbour? Who are the neighbours of this church? Is he or she as the resource management act says all those downstream where I want to discharge waste water from my plant? Those deemed to be affected? by my actions?
And they decide whether or not they are affected? on basis of material loss , or intangible values, because they have always lived there and gathered the eels and the discharge will make that unpleasant.? Who is my neighbour has earned many a legal fee? Our a domesticated view which narrows the people next door to being our neighbour is challengedĖ it stretches us as much as the Jewish lawyer?
The question is a basic question of beliefs and values. It is in fact the question for us and our world today.
How do I live a life which is lasting, inherit eternal life? The Jewish l;awyer knew the answer, love God, love neighbour as your self.
although it is impeccable theology about eternal life , its only a half truth and therefore an untruth, until he can answer the question. God Ė thatís expected but who is my neighbour?
Jesus tells a story . An unidentifiable man was beaten and left stripped on the roadside in a dangerous part of the country. I guess the road between Jerusalem and Jericho is still dangerous to travel. Things donít change much.
Two people who are righteous keepers of the law pass by , donít get caught up in the details, we are only told they didnít stop. Then Jesus gets to the point, A Samaritan, a non Jew, whatís more a despised person, stops to help and follows up to see that the injured man is cared for at cost to himself. Surprisingly we find that there is at least one good Samaritan.
The lawyer is trapped and knows it.
Who was a neighbour to this man?
.Jewish law said the neighbour was another Jew. A Samaritan downstream would not have got a look in under this guyís resource management Act,
He plays with words The one who showed him mercy.he says reluctantly,
Go says Jesus and be a neighbour like this.
The lawyer is up against his understanding of his own religious tradition and of his value basis.
He wanted to know who his neighbour was and has a reply that he is to be a neighbour. He cannot restrict or determine who is likely to be his neighbour, anymore than the helpless injured man, and it is clear he wasnít exactly happy with the thought that a non person might rescue him.,.
Do you realise how world shattering that is? Jesus points out that there are no barriers between humans, we are basically made to be neighbours to any other human being, especially if we are travelling down the same road.
The challenges all world views that say there is an in group and an out group who are not human, who are not loved by god.. That our basic humanity is clumps of people with a common interest andl those who can contribute or function in that group of clan or tribe can belong...A user pays society. The idea that we can decide whom our neighbour is, who is human..
OF course we have different cultures which are part of us when we come together but Jesus was confronting cultural assumptions which prevented people from being neighbours and showing us our common humanity is based in being in the image of God...
A community is enriched when we understand that we are neighbours. And one of the signals that a society is hurting is when we are too afraid to let others be our neighbours because they may harm us. Or too afraid to get to know others to whom we can be a neighbour.
When we start feeling safe because we build high fences, lock our doors or on a global scale have better weapons than anyone else we are not at peace. .: I suppose the real tragedy of p is that it wipes out that ability to give and receive love
St James has acted as part of the community for all these years, it is because you are neighbours. If we love God in response to Gods love for us , it is the natural outcome to love our neighbour and to allow our neighbour to love us.
ĎWho is my neighbour?í Are there limits? Is it to include only the people of my community, of Israel? Might it also include undesirables, Samaritans, Gentiles? Does it include women, people with disabilities, lepers and others frequently excluded? Ultimately it is a theological question: whom does God love?: it makes us realise that in human community every human person is a neighbour and potentially a caring human being; and it breaks down the hierarchy of helper and helped.
Jesus says that Godís reign is one where people love one another, where society is transformed and things that are given up as dead ended can bring new life which nourishes everyone. Where love which outlasts death gives us the vision to look beyond what seems impossible and have hope for the tasks we do now.
Its really very simple Ė we are neighbours Ė because God loves.
and in all of life, in individuals, in community, in structure and organisation, and in creation God invites us to become Godís action in the world and love our neighbour.
Then they will know God.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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