WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR?: Looking for Loopholes in Love
Signposts on the Journey from Jerusalem to Jericho
TEAR AUSTRALIA Victorian Gathering
5-7th October 2007
Looking for Loopholes in Love, Concept originally developed by
and curated by Mark Pierson for World Vision Australia at Montsalvat, Victoria, October 5, 2006
WELCOME…to this mornings worship curated by Seeds for the TEAR Gathering…
Seeds describes the types of conversation, relational connections, and commitments that have emerged out of the life of Urban Seed, a ministry of hospitality, education and advocacy in the heart of Melbourne.
Seeds now finds expression in groups of people who seek to Know the Word , Grow Home and Go Engage in various neighbourhoods around Victoria.
We value worship that is participatory, supportive of creativity, not afraid of questions and connected to the realities of our lives.
Around the property there are 11 different stations. They are located inside buildings and outside. You are free to move around the area over the next 60 minutes and to interact with the stations as you wish.
You can move to all the stations marked by the signposts, or stay at one. You are welcome to use the time to sit quietly here and watch images and text on the screen or to wander around the property.
Please respect the silence of other people. If you wish socialize please do it away from the stations.
“Come on Up to the House” by Tom Waits will play again at 9.55am and a Benediction will be said in this space should you wish to return, after which the morning session will begin.
We acknowledge that we gather on the land of which the Jajowurrong (or Djadja Wurrung) people have been custodians from time immemorial. We honour this history and commit ourselves to care for the land with them. May our worship and our service be work for reconciliation with people and with our God.
(We say together…)Jesus, light of the world, we confess that you are here. Shine your light into the hidden places of our lives, and bring warmth to the cold places of our hearts. Amen. (silence while a candle is lit)
‘Well the moon is broken, And the sky is cracked,
The only things that you can see, Is all that you lack,
Come on up to the house’ – Tom Waits
1. MY WORD from Luke 10:25
Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”
26He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”
27He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
28″Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”
29Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”
30-32Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
33-35″A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
36″What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
37″The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.” The Message
As you re-read the text notice what words or phrase stands out for you. Write or organise the word/s on the whiteboards and ask God to show what they may mean for you.
My word/s …… Gods word for me…….
People can be robbed of much more than material goods…Time, love, attention, trust, acceptance…
Do you feel like you have been robbed of anything? Who by?
Have you robbed someone else of something?
Can you forgive your ‘robber’?
Can you forgive yourself?
Forgiveness can rarely be of human making, and is rarely a single event or moment. What would you like from the ‘innkeeper’ as you continue on your journey through life?
Jesus welcomes all of us and every part of us to join him at the Table.
Jesus was at a meal with his close friends, and in the same way that he had taken the bread they were eating he also took what they were drinking and said, ‘This is my lifeblood. It represents the new life I’m making possible for you when you have a relationship with God.’ Drink and encounter the healing and renewing presence of Christ in your life and for your journey.
(fill up a cup from the water container…)
When you have emptied your cup fill it with potting mix and plant a seed. Water it from your water bottle. Take this away with you and nurture it to life as a reminder to nurture your own life on your journey toward wholeness.
3. DITCHED BY GOD?
What if you are the person in the ditch, and God is the “Good Samaritan?”
In the story the ‘enemy’ brings life to the person left for dead. The person who cannot help herself, who has nothing to lose, who can’t even refuse help, is saved by someone usually scorned and derided. Perhaps, at different times, you see God as your ‘enemy’ and as your rescuer?
In what ways, if any, do you see God as your enemy?
In what ways would you like God to be your rescuer?
What ditch are you lying in?
Jesus did not come to rescue the healed…he came for the broken, offering to get in the ditch with us, and making us the promise of being put into a right relationship with God.
“On the night before he was to be deserted by everyone around him, Jesus was at a meal with his close friends, and he took the bread they were eating, gave thanks for it and broke it saying, ‘This is my body given for you. Eat it and remember what I can do for you.”
Break and eat bread and allow the unexpected mercy of God into your life, even as you are in you ‘ditch’. Know that there is the promise of the presence of the Christ with you wherever you are in life and however you feel toward God.
To ask ‘Who is my neighbour?’ is to ask ‘Who can I exclude?’ ‘Who can I leave out?’ ‘Who am I not responsible for?’ Examples of exclusion and inclusion surround us every day.
Tear out any newspaper article, heading, picture or text that sums up a plea from someone who needs a neighbour. Someone who is excluded in some way.
Hang it on the line.
Read what others have chosen.
Can you act as neighbour in any of these situations? Can you include someone who would otherwise be excluded? Pray for those who can; pray that someone will.
Reflect on a recent situation where someone ‘became a neighbour’ or acted as a neighbour to you, or to someone close to you. How does this feel? Were you surprised? Why, or why not?
How did you respond? Could you or should you have acted differently?
Do you find it easier to be a neighbour or to be ‘neighboured’?
‘In the Kingdom of God mercy is always a surprise.’
Psalm 141 says, ‘God, come close. Come quickly! Open your ears— it’s my voice you’re hearing! Threat my prayer as sweet incense rising; my raised hands are my evening prayers.’
Drop a few grains of incense into the bowl as a symbol of your prayer of gratitude or confession.
The point of Jesus’ interaction with the lawyer was to have him see that , ‘Who is my neighbour?’ is the wrong question. The right question is ‘ Who sees me as their neighbour?’ In other words, ‘Who needs me to be a neighbour to them?’ Who needs me to show mercy, compassion, understanding, acceptance, practical help toward their situation? The initiative comes from the need, not my response.
Are you aware of a person or situation that needs your merciful neighbourly response? Maybe you need that from someone else? Could you use a neighbour at the moment? How will you seek one out?
Take a Band-Aid and write or draw on it with a pen that person or circumstance.
Attach the Band-Aid to the person in the ditch as a symbol of your prayer for, and your commitment to being a neighbour.
What reasons may the Samaritan have paid the innkeeper to care? For what reasons might you give time or money to TEAR or be an inn keeper, paid to care?
TEAR is committed to serving those in desperate need, prioritising people over money or structures. How do you feel when corrupt officials, warlords or racist bureaucrats stop that happening? What about the failings of TEAR or Australia generally. What keeps you going?
The story Jesus told isn’t about doing good works, or following a good example. It’s a story about doing what is right because it is right. It’s about identifying with the loser and sacrificing your best for the lost , the least, the little and the almost dead (Robert Farrar Capon’s litany). It’s about losing your life and somehow in doing that, according to Jesus, finding the meaning of your life.
How do you feel about these tensions and stuggles? Take a copy of the picture and colour it in using colours that represent the emotions evoked in you. When you have finished, nail your picture to the cross.
8. MELTING AT THE CROSS ROADS
There is no reason given in the story to think that the Levite and the Priest were morally corrupt, or self- centred, or too busy to notice what was going on. They were probably good, respectable people. They saw the situation, but were caught between their duty to the people they served, and to the victim. They knew if they touched the injured man they would not be able to carry out their own scheduled duties of service to others in temple worship. They would be considered ‘unclean’.
I don’t think the story is about putting the Samaritan’s response above those of the Priest or Levite. It’s about getting the lawyer to understand that his view of ‘neighbour’ was too simplistic and narrow. Too black and white. Jesus doesn’t condemn anyone’s choice.
Service, community development, being a neighbour, offering love can’t be defined with words; they are worked out in the messy, compromising, risky reality of difficult and often conflicting choices.
Do you feel pulled in this way in your personal life or work circumstances?
How do you maintain you integrity? How do you ‘love yourself” in these situations?
Take an ice cross in your hand and walk or sit with the discomfort of the cold and wet melt. Talk to God about the impossibility of the situations you face. Remember the similarly difficult choice God faced with Jesus and the cross. Know that you are not condemned by God for your choices. At some point let the cross fall from your hand and walk away.
9. LOVE ME?….LOVE ME NOT?…..
Look over the faces on the wall. Write on the wall your reaction to any of the people that you want to, or your prayer for them.
The main characters in the story are—Jesus, The lawyer, The victim, The robbers, The priest, The Levite, The Samaritan, The Innkeeper.
What do you identify most with?
Do you know why this is?
Is this identification something you are happy with or wish was different?
What location would you place yourself at in the story?
Using the materials make a ‘stick figure’ avatar to represent you. Place that figure in the sand at the place you currently see yourself in the story.
Then light a stick of incense and place it where you would like to be.
11. BRAINS AND BRAWN
“Love the Lord you God with all your passion, and prayer, and intelligence and muscle…Do this and you will live. “
What do you think you’re strongest in?
What do you think could use some strengthening?
They’re probably meant to be taken together as an expression of a wholehearted and whole of life commitment to loving and following God rather than broken down and analysed.
Use the paint to draw, or leave your handprint on the plinth as an indication of your desire to follow God with all of your being and in every area of your life as best as you are able.
God of the journey, you are always calling us to follow you into the future, inviting us to new ventures, new challenges, new ways to care, new ways to touch the hearts of all. When we are fearful of the unknown, give us courage. When we worry that we are not up to the task, remind us that you would not call us if you did not believe us. (Unknown)
You are God’s servants, gifted with dreams and visions
Upon you rests the grace of God Like flames of fire,
Love and serve the Lord in the strength of the spirit.
May the deep peace of Christ be with you,
The strong arms of God sustain you and the power of the Holy Spirit strengthen you in every way.
(Dianne Karay Tripp)