A sermon preached on the eighth Sunday after Pentecost
(Proper 10 Year C, RCL)
at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, University City, San Diego
- Last sermon at St. Peter’s after the Orlando shooting.
- Lamented that I already had a stock sermon on gun violence.
- Now we come together after another week of gun violence.
- Unnecessary killing of human beings, of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
- God is weeping and we weep with him.
- The words of Deuteronomy are hard.
- God had promised the people of Israel that he would restore them and shower them with blessings, and make all things well. He promises that promise is not far away. But today it feels very far away.
- It is a hard reading to accept.
- But God is close, he is walking with us, he is wanting peace and restoration of what he desirers the world to be.
- Gospel reading Good Samaritan.
- It is hard to be a Good Samaritan to those who kill, who are full of anger and full of hatred but that is what a Good Samaritan does.
- Good Samaritan – amazing story – The man presumably a Jew.
- Road from Jerusalem to Jericho just short of 17 miles and falls more than 3,400 ft.
- Josephus spoke of the road in the first century as desolate and rocky.
- Infested with robbers.
- Neither compelled to live in Jerusalem.
- Samarian – layman outside the pale of orthodox Judaism.
- What was he doing there?
- Two denarii – several days compensation to the innkeeper.
- Jesus put him on a dangerous road.
- Jesus is calling us to be on a dangerous road.
- College north wales – plan your journey.
- Now we rely on GPS and google maps.
- Charts the fastest route, avoids traffic, and redirects if there are any problems.
- Focused on the destination. We need to pay attention to the journey.
- May be good for driving – not so sure good for Christian life.
- We are called to think about the journey. About the path that we take.
- We are called to take that road between Jerusalem and Jericho. Rocky, hilly and even full of robbers.
- It is only when we get out of our comfort zone that we will find the people we need to meet.
- As Christians we need to embark on a journey that will take us to situations that will put us at risk and make us unpopular.
- In a few minutes we are going to Gather around Gods table.
- We need to be welcoming and invite all to that table.
- But we need also to go out and join other where they find their table.
- We need to go and stand in solidarity with the other.
- Menorah in the window story.
- We need to use God as our GPS so that we journey the road where he calls us to be.
- We need to pray.
- We need to put our prayer in action and stand in solidarity with those who the world tosses aside, we need to share the light of Christ with those who only want to cast darkness. Darkness has never been ended by more darkness only by light.
- I want to walk that journey, turn off the GPS of life, get out God’s Atlas and work out where he is calling us. Then I want to take that path – no matter where it goes. I pray that you will journey with me.
Recently I returned back to ECS’s ACCORD program for two final weeks of sitting in and assisting with some of the DUI group sessions. Because of work and personal commitments there had been a five week gap between my previous visit and these last sessions. I had missed the program in those five weeks but the gap also allowed me to stand back and look at where some of the people in the program were in their journey. Jenny*, the councilor who ran the group is a natural at her job and is able to adapt to any group dynamic and draw out a learning experience from everyone in the class. She helps people at all stages of their journey and I have learnt so much from her.
Tonight was a night to check in people on a journey. Some of the group that I had come to know previously had completed their program and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. Others, who were partially through their program, were now nearing the end of their time and of course there was a couple of new people who were just starting the program who I had never seen before. It was clear that some of the folk had been affected by their time at ACCORD. Getting a DUI is a big deal and their time in the program was well spent. For others the time in group sessions, educational classes and individual one-on-one meetings seemed less worthwhile. But that may be an unfair comment, because in reality I was, and am, just an observer or at best a fellow traveler.
Do you ever get a song into your head and can’t get rid of it? That happened to me on my way home that night. I was thinking back, all the way to my infant school, aged just five or six. At school we sang hymns every day in assembly. One of those songs came to mind…..
One more step along the world I go,
one more step along the world I go;
from the old things to the new
keep me traveling along with you:
And it’s from the old I travel to the new;
keep me traveling along with you.
Round the corner of the world I turn,
more and more about the world I learn;
all the new things that I see
you’ll be looking at along with me: Refrain
As I travel through the bad and good,
keep me traveling the way I should;
where I see no way to go
you’ll be telling me the way, I know: Refrain
Give me courage when the world is rough,
keep me loving though the world is tough;
leap and sing in all I do,
keep me traveling along with you: Refrain
You are older than the world can be,
you are younger than the life in me;
ever old and ever new,
keep me traveling along with you: Refrain
Words: Sydney Carter
Music: Southcote by Sydney Carter, arranged by Lionel Dakers
Words © 1971 by Stainer & Bell Ltd. (admin. by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188).
How true those words are. Faith is a journey (of course there are times when we need to stop moving and be still to feel the presence of God and to let the Lord and Holy Spirit flow into our lives and our worship) that moves us from one place to another. Often we think about the start and the end of the journey but the hymn reminds us of the path along the way. Old, new, bad, good, learning, lost, guided, rough, tough, old, young and in the spirit of the refrain – never travelling alone, always in the company of our Lord.
Steps may be large or small, forwards and sometimes backwards, uphill, downhill. Sometimes we want to run at others we want to crawl.
Sometimes we may be forced on a journey like the participants attending an ECS ACCORD DUI program. At other times we are happy to move along.
Where is your journey today?
What is on the path ahead of you? what is next to you now?
Are you conscious that God is walking with you?
* All names changed