Friends,

I feel like I have been punched in the gut more than once this past week.  I assume that you have felt this too.  On Wednesday, I became aware of the killing of Alton Sterling.  On Thursday afternoon, I became aware of the killing of Philando Castile.  On Thursday evening, horrified by the breaking news of the killing of police officers in Dallas, I posted these words on Facebook: “Lord have mercy on us all.  Either we will learn to live together as brothers and sisters or we will die together.  My heart grieves for the individuals and their loved ones killed by excessive use of force and now I grieve for the officers and their families in Dallas.”

Today, Friday, I grieved for all of us.  Many of us are bewildered by these events.  Many of us are shocked by them.  Many of us are saddened by the divisions between communities.  Many of us are afraid as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  Many of us ask, “What are we to do as followers of Jesus in the midst of these events and the realities of people’s lives?”

I turned to our Holy scriptures for guidance, in particular I turned to the Gospel reading from the Revised Common Lectionary for this Sunday.  The reading is from Luke 10:25-37.  It is the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Many if not all of us know this story.  A man is going down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.  He fell into the hands of robbers. They beat him, stripped him of his clothes and went away, leaving him half dead.  By chance a priest and a Levite were going down that same road, but they passed by on the other side.  Jesus’ crowd expected the third person to be a Jewish Layman, but surprisingly the third person is a Samaritan.  When he saw him, he had compassion, empathy.  He went to him, bandaged his wounds, poured oil and wine on them, put the man on his own donkey, took him to the inn and took care of him.  The Samaritan didn’t know that poor man’s name, yet he became a neighbor just the same.  He became a neighbor not by standing on the sidelines, not through an academic discussion of who his neighbor was, not by sending thoughts and prayers to the man, but by doing, by action.  And he could only do what he did by “going to him.”  Liberation Theologian Gustavo Gutierrez writes, “the neighbor was the Samaritan who approached the wounded man and made him his neighbor.” He entered into the wounded man’s situation. 

On Sunday, we’ll explore steps to take so that we can follow the Good Samaritan’s example and “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37b) so that we can “inherit eternal life” (Luke 10:25) so that we can walk through and not stay in the valley of the shadow of death.

Until Sunday, I leave you with a few words from a couple of wise women.  One known to many people and one known to many of us.

Pastor Dave

“History despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”-- Maya Angelou

“We each choose whether we feed fear or courage.  Fear breeds hate, courage breeds love.  Fear means agonizing death.  Courage is life-giving.  Let courage drive you, not fear.  If you’re making a decision out of fear, it’s not a good one.  We choose whether to feed fear or courage.  The world has been feeding fear and starving courage for far too long.  Feed courage; seek it out, chase after it, praise it whenever you see it.”—Keilah McNaughton, WCU graduate and BCWC College Ministry Participant