Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
In 2019 I had the privilege of traveling to the Holy Land with an amazing group of clergy and educators from Greensboro. Many participate in the Greensboro Faith Leaders Council, whose mission is to build an interracial and interfaith body of faith communities to work for peace and justice in Greensboro. Traveling together gave me not only a new perspective but also new relationships through shared experiences. These connections have carried over to important work in the city and help provide a foundation for uniting people of faith around common goals and vision.
As I read the scriptures for this week and considered our city, I was reminded of my trip and the relationships created through the desert, along the sea, and by the hillside. These were the same roads, seasides and hillsides that Jesus traveled as he made his way to Jerusalem. One was the Jericho road, the setting for today’s story of the Good Samaritan.
The Jericho road is about 17 miles long from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and is notoriously isolated and unsafe for vulnerable travelers. Today it is set east of Jerusalem in the Israeli Palestinian controlled West Bank. Jesus set his parable on the Jericho road as it highlighted both violence and oppression. The Jericho road is any place where people are robbed of their possessions and their dignity and respect. Today it might be seen as the place where crime is rising, loneliness is epidemic, poverty and homelessness is growing, racism and white supremacy is spreading, and immigrants and refugees are left out.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said in a sermon on the Good Samaritan: “One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that no one will be beaten down or robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A society that produces beggars needs restructuring.”
As we made our way into Jerusalem on our Holy Land trip we didn’t stop along the Jericho road but our guide encouraged us to take note of this famous Christian site of the parable of the Good Samaritan. As I stared out the bus window, I saw dry, steep, rocky desert for miles and I envisioned a city and world where the oppressed and marginalized might find healing and hope.
Where and what are your personal Jericho roads? Where and what are the Jericho roads in Greensboro? How might FPC work toward justice and hope in our city?
God of Love, give us a deep love for you, so that we can see the world as you see it, feel the compassion you feel, and be a people who live out your grace to others. Open our eyes that we might see what the Good Samaritan saw. Grant us the insight to see the needs of others, the wisdom to know what to do, and the courage to do it. We pray for all of those who in many and varied ways have been stripped, beaten, and robbed of life. We pray for those we might cross the road to avoid, those we have excluded because of race, status, ethnicity, gender, ability, or history. May dignity be restored, mercy shown, and wholeness and healing cover our city. Give us a future filled with your plans of peace and hope for all. Amen.