ROAD LESS TRAVELED
PSALM 32: 1,2 & 5-8
LUKE 10: 25-37
March 31, 2019 *HEALING SUNDAY
In today’s heated political climate … in today’s troubled world … in today’s new reality of communications where there is an immediate attack on individuals or organizations that one disagrees with through vehement attacking words that bite, tweet, and meme in ways reflective of junior high school bullies … I can only imagine what the reaction would be if some national leader used the words, “We must seek justice for the poor and liberation for the oppressed” … WE MUST.”
If you were asked if you agreed with those words or opposed them, what would your answer be?
In today’s society overwhelmed with judgments … in today’s neighborhoods and internet conversations where the concept of us versus them has become the confidence builder that provides even the meekest voices the opportunity to scream and shout; mock and condemn… as one faith leader said to me this week, angry prejudiced people now can hide behind their Smartphones and tablets … in a nation where individuals whom the media identifies as “Christian leaders” are supporting programs that divide and reward individuals for their political affiliations rather than for how they represent Jesus Christ … I can only imagine what the reaction would be if some leader suggested that health clinics need to be opened to provide quality care for refugees including those without documentation and health care for the poor and these clinics would be opened in neighborhoods where the patients could come and go as they chose and that the quality medical care’s cost would be taken care of one way or another.
If you were asked if you agreed with quality medical care clinics especially targeting refugees and immigrants including the non-documented and these were to be built in your community, what would you say? What would you TWEET?
The prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Lord God’s spirit is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim release to the captives, and liberation for prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and a day of vindication for our God. Foreigners will stay and shepherd your sheep and strangers will be your farmers and vinedressers. I the Lord love justice.”
Foreigners stay? Prisoners released? Justice? If you heard those words from an American politician or from a candidate for President … what would you say? What would you call a man or a woman who endorsed such policies? Would you TWEET about them? Post a meme? Complain to a friend?
God’s Word … Jesus as He began His ministry woke up the people of His home town with those very same words … the people of Nazareth were not much different than the people of New Jersey even the ones who attended synagogue many didn’t use God’s teaching as the standard for their week and when they heard Jesus teach what God wanted … these good town’s folks wanted to throw Jesus off the cliff. Today He would be blasted by social media … shouted down by talk radio and condemned by leaders for teaching such radical ideas as those that were part of His every day ministry … but He taught them; He is teaching us to take the ROAD LESS TRAVELLED because we are His people and He is our Savior … we are to be difference makers who are different from the world.
The first two examples I shared this morning … the first stating that we must seek justice and liberation for the oppressed and the second about opening medical clinics to serve refugees and immigrants are pretty much the faith-filled missions created by two visionaries of faith I have the privilege of calling friend. Bruce Main of Urban Promise and Dr. Myron Glick of Jericho Road Community Health Center. These men had their lives literally turned around by the Holy Spirit because they had other plans and were going in a different direction … they experienced SCRIPTURE … God’s Word … speaking directly to them … BY THE WAY DID YOU BRING YOUR BIBLE TODAY?
Both Bruce and Myron started out with nothing. No funds … no staff … just a call from God; a mission to do exactly what Scripture teaches us to do. In this Lenten journey we are on; in this ROAD TRIP of faith … are you willing to hear God? Are you willing to listen to the Holy Spirit? Are you ready to get on the ROAD LESS TRAVELLED if it means you will be traveling each day for and with Jesus Christ?
That’s faith my friends … that’s walking for God … that’s allowing Jesus to be Savior, Lord and Master rather than a mere notation in a resume profile.
I was with Bruce a few weeks ago and he was telling me that URBAN PROMISE Los Angeles is now a reality. From a small summer program in Camden URBAN PROMISE is now caring for inner city youth … for children living in poverty … all across America and literally around the world because Bruce stopped to hear the Holy Spirit. From nothing to something … a ROAD LESS TRAVELLED … AMAZING!
Dr. Glick opened his first clinic in a church that was willing to create space in their building for a medical clinic caring for refugees both legal and undocumented or what some label as illegal. Dr.. Glick’s faith and vision inspired others … today human beings in Sierra Leone who were without health care are alive because of his vision … the clinic in Buffalo is again expanding as that city establishes itself as a city where refugees are helping rebuild neighborhoods that had fallen apart. From a church hall to sophisticated health care clinics honored with awards, partnering with universities, and serving the people of Africa in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in addition to the United States. A young med school graduate from Lancaster County heard God … was awakened by God’s Holy Spirit to again look at the story from the Gospel of Luke that we heard today. He got on the road; the one less travelled!
So, a legal expert … a rule endorser … someone who didn’t like this radical named Jesus whose teaching countered His world and frankly if those same words were broadcast today without naming Jesus as the source they would be quickly condemned in our world too … some condemning even if they knew it came from Jesus. This legal expert asks about eternal life. Jesus gets the man to quote Scripture, WHAT IS WRITTEN in the LAW Jesus asks … yes, you see friends God is consistent with God’s teaching … from the Old Testament from the Torah … to the Prophets and then on to Jesus … simple messages of faith but complicated choices for life. The legal expert answers, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
Pretty good words don’t you agree? I can say them … you can say them … the old Golden Rule of sorts but when Jesus compliments the Pharisee on his answer and tells him to do this and live there must have been something in Jesus voice that pushed the guy to ask WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR.
Ah, friends there is the problem … there is the challenge … there is the conundrum for people who attend church or say they are Christians … there is more to the story than the niceties of words … there is a ROAD LESS TRAVELLED by the world’s community that people of faith must get onto IF … IF they … IF we .. want to have eternal life and live. Because Scripture teaches faith without works is dead so if we aren’t on the road but just smiling when we talk about church … if we don’t like the road of Christ with our cross over our shoulders … well then we just don’t believe do we?
The neighbor who needs us, we heard again today, is the beaten and bruised … the broken and harmed … the person that those in power reject. The person that even faith leaders cross the road to avoid because their pretty clothes might get dirt or blood on them … THE NEIGHBOR DEMONSTRATING WHAT LOVE MEANS is the one … that the Samaritan, a Samaritan whom the people living in Jesus community at the time would do all they could to avoid … Jesus was saying we have to be like the Samaritan and if we are on the Jesus road … if we are people of faith who truly hold Jesus as Savior … if we believe … IF IF IF … then church we must be on the ROAD less travelled … WE MUST be the people who see the hurting along today’s JERICHO ROADS and WE MUST CROSS … WE MUST LOVE … WE MUST CARE … WE MUST STAND UP AGAINST THOSE WHO WOULD IMPOSE INJUSTICES on anyone … and WE MUST LIFT UP those who are hurting.
A few weeks ago I spent time walking in and out of our Sunday School classrooms … I wanted to sense our children and our teachers. It was quiet … just me. I was impressed by what I saw. We have something good happening here at St. Paul’s. In one classroom there was a mural that I thought told the story of St. Paul’s. A tree growing … a rainbow of love for all and hands of welcome.
I posted it to FACEBOOK but on this healing Sunday … on this day when I know we all need to get on the ROAD LESS TRAVELLED I am going to make you think and work for a moment. The image from the classroom is now on this banner … but this banner needs more hands with messages of faith; verses that matter; thoughts of welcome and the names of the people who call St. Paul’s home.
So, we are going to hand out hands … to each of you … and give you a few moments to think about a verse or an expression of faith or love that matters to you. Write it on the hands and then put your name on the hand. Give a hand to your children … each of you … and then Patty wants to introduce what will be a new tradition for every healing Sunday here at church,
<<PATTY FISH EXPLAINS THE CARD MINISTRY THAT BEGINS TODAY … greeting cards that will be sent to a family in need of prayer.>>. THE HANDS and CARDS will be distributed as music plays in the back ground.
Friends, the neighbor is the one who demonstrates mercy … Jesus taught us to go and do likewise. We heard in today’s Psalm, “I will instruct you and teach you. About the direction you should go! You who are righteous, rejoice in the Lord and be glad!”