Today a group of people from St. Luke’s left our church to drive to Houston, Texas. They are the fourth group that we have sent to help with the post-hurricane missional work. They will be working with and from Memorial Drive United Methodist Church. I am so proud of the ones who left today, the ones who have already gone, and all the people who have given donations to support the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) efforts in all the areas that have been hit with tragedy.
The Gospel of Luke tells of a man who wanted to test Jesus and the man asked Him, “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus agreed with the answer the man gave to his own question, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Then the man asked Jesus to explain who his neighbor was. Jesus told him the story of the Good Samaritan. How a man was robbed, beaten, and left for dead. Two of his own countrymen passed by him without stopping, but it was a stranger who stopped to help. When Jesus asked the man who the neighbor was in the story, it was the man who showed mercy.
We are called to love our neighbors. And Jesus defines a neighbor as the one who shows mercy to another. Being a neighbor isn’t a passive designation of who happens to be near you. Being a neighbor means showing mercy to people you encounter along the way. It means looking for opportunities to share God’s love in the world.
We can’t sit back in life and have “neighborly” thoughts of goodwill to those who happen to be right beside us. That is not the idea of what Jesus believes a neighbor to be. We are called to go and show mercy to those in need.
The group left the St. Luke’s parking lot today to travel to share God’s love with those who have been robbed of their homes and their possessions. They will show mercy to those who have been wounded by the storms. They will become neighbors to people they have never met. The Good Samaritan “proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers” because when he encountered a person in need, he didn’t pass by – he stopped to show mercy. When you go about your day, stop and be a neighbor to those in need.
What is the path of life lived to the fullest? Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. Please continue to pray for all those in the different areas who experienced the hurricanes, pray for those who are reaching out to them, and pray for opportunities to be a better neighbor in the world.
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, 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, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”