I wanted us to think today about a question Jesus is posed in Luke 10:29-37 when he is asked the following by an expert in Jewish Law “and who is my neighbour?”…

In times when we are stressed and pushed one of our natural instincts is to gravitate to what we already know, and who we already know. To connect with people close to us, those most like us, but this leaves quite a problem. It means that those on the edge of our communities, those who are more often on their own, those we may not naturally connect with, are much more at risk of being forgotten.

 

Look at Jesus replies to the question he was asked

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.”
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour 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.'

Now I know we all know this passage but let it remind us today to take a step back from our own situations and ask ourselves is there anyone in our immediate locality we haven’t seen for a while, are their people in our streets who we never really talk to, are there people in our churches always on the edge of church life who we have never really talked to, are there people with whom we have never seen eye to eye with that may now need our help?

The Samaritan goes out of his way to help someone who would normally never speak to him but he responds to the need that was in front of him, a reminder that Jesus did the same for us, all of us… even those who would reject him. And it speaks of sacrifice… we know one man was robbed and beaten, but the Samaritan put himself at risk of the same to save another’s life… he put his fear of being attacked behind the need to reach out and help another. Maybe we are frightened that if we go and help we might get COVID 19, but there are ways we can connect that don’t involve going out. We can phone, we can put letters through doors, we can email regularly, we can connect by social media.

For those who feel they can do more, then maybe you can drop letters through doors asking how they are (you can set up a specific email address just for that purpose perhaps), or if you feel comfortable you could also leave your mobile. People will need connection as the days and weeks go by… so ask today ‘who is my neighbour, can I reach out to them?’

Blessings to you all, stay safe, be safe
James