I am fond of many of the worshippers there, so I agreed to "sub" because their Priest-in-Charge" will be out of town.
(A note for non Church attenders: --- in the Episcopal Church, and in many others, we use assigned passages each Sunday. We read a lot of scripture - a reading from the Old Testament; a Psalm; another reading from the Epistles etc, and a final reading from the Gospels).
All too much scripture (in my humble opinion) and not enough time to reflect on it.
The sad norm in the Episcopal Church is to more or less ignore the O.T. and Epistle readings, and to preach on the Gospel. 'Tis too bad - for there is much in other parts of the bible which is profitable - and necessary.
The Gospel reading tomorrow is the famed "Good Samaritan" passage (see below).
I will not preach on this Gospel passage. This is for three reasons.
1. It's a bit "old". So many Christians are familiar with the story that it is hard to imbue it with fresh meanings.
2. The story brings out my judgmentalism. "Of course", I say, "the Priest and the Levite were dreadful people" (conveniently ignoring my own dreadfulness).
3. The story can easily evoke my own self righteousness. When ever I read it I "know" that I would be the good Samaritan. (If you believe that, then let me sell you a bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn).
Instead I will preach from the Old Testament passage (Amos 7:7-17). "Amos" (circa 800 B.C.) spoke at a time when the rich were getting richer, and the poor were getting poorer, (so what is new?).
I'll try not to preach a left wing rant. I'll do my best to let the passage from Amos speak for itself.
I'll post my sermon tomorrow at which time you'll be able to discern whether or not I abstained from ranting, and whether or not I allowed the Word of God in Amos to do its own work.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ 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 neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, 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 while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’