Rushbearing – Sermon 20
Prayer to start
May every thought and every word be graciously received for the Glory and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ
As far as I am aware – the earliest published reference to Rushbearing in Lymm was 1817 – when people brought Rushes to the church – to be placed on the clay floor and under the benches – and to ornament the church throughout the year.
It’s a tradition that reminds us of a time when our community spirit was strong – and community values were important – but what about today?
How can we develop a strong community spirit today?
What would your suggestions be?
more shops – more recreational facilities ? – or maybe you will choose something a bit more basic to our needs –
– more friendliness – more neighbourliness – more Christian love ?-
2000 years ago the Scribes in Judea had already identified the primary importance of love – from their studies of the Bible – but as Jesus shows us in our reading this evening – there was a disappointing gap between theory and practice
The reading tells us about the behaviour of four men – A lawyer – A priest – A priest’s helper – and a rebel –
each faced with very searching questions about their behaviour and commitment to others – we are going to briefly look at each one to see if it helps us see where the gap lies –
First the Lawyer – a man who enjoyed public debate – not a lawyer as we would understand – but a specialist in Jewish OT Scriptures
It was not unusual for such people to follow Jesus around – to try to catch Him out and publically discredit Him
"What must I do to inherit eternal life?"- he said
but Jesus refused to be drawn – and instead invites him to answer his own question – from his knowledge of OT scriptures –
The lawyer recalled the two greatest and most important commandments in the Bible –
"Love the Lord your God – with all your heart – with all your soul – with all your strength – and with all your mind – and love your neighbour as yourself”
Yes said Jesus – that’s the right answer –
"do that and you will have life”
we have a God who values love above everything else – A God who loves each one of us as individuals – who’s love is unlimited – a God who commands us to love Him – and to love others as He loves us – a God who showed us His love by giving His only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross so that our sins can be forgiven – and we might be reconciled with Him –
but the lawyer wasn’t satisfied – with such a brief answer – so he asked another question
" who is my neighbour ?"
Jesus then told him the parable of the Good Samaritan – a story about a man who was robbed by bandits and stripped of his clothing – on the road 17 mile stretch of road between Jerusalem and Jericho – a dangerous road for travellers – and buses if you have ever traveled on it) – people seldom attempted the road alone –
The first one along the path was the priest – He
ignored the man and passed on the other side –
no doubt he was able to justify his decision with some sound arguments like –
he might have been a decoy – to trap naive travelers – it would have been too dangerous to stop
or – he might have been dead anyway – if Jewish priests came within 6 ft of a dead body they would become ritually unclean – and be prevented from doing their duties – until they had been through a cleansing ceremony – and it would have caused a lot of inconvenience and embarrassment to the people he was going to see –
How many times have we turned away – because we might be inconvenienced – Too busy to stop –
Then there was the Levite – the priest’s helper –
no doubt he would have thought it was too dangerous to – stop – or maybe he thought he didn’t need to stop – anyway – it wasn’t anything to do with him – he didn’t attack the man – or do him any harm – he wasn’t responsible – best not to get involved – the man might not have been a Jew anyway
How many times have we turned the other way – because it’s not our problem –
Which brings us to the rebel – the Samaritan
Jews and Samaritans didn’t get on – Samaritans were physically cursed in the Synagogues – So Jesus couldn’t have chosen a more offensive hero for His story – and in fact surrounded by Jews – He displayed considerable physical courage telling it
At every step the Samaritan fulfils the duty of love – he cared for the man’s wounds and bathed them – put the man on his donkey – and walked him to an inn – and paid for the man to be looked after until he recovered –
When Jesus asked the Lawyer – who He thought was a neighbour to the man – he couldn’t bring himself to say the word Samaritan – and said " the one who had mercy on him" –
Its easy to engage in generalities – about loving others –when we don’t know them – isn’t it – but Jesus tells us to get personally involved – to get off our donkey and help – to give time caring for and helping others around us –
the lawyer thought he knew the standard he should aim for – but like us – he fell far short when it came to the practice – he couldn’t overcome his racial prejudice – and the priest and the Levite faired no better – they were probably sorry they ever went on that road that day – only the Samaritan got it right – his love had no limits – just like God’s –
Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan has inspired many generations to take a positive look at the importance of loving and caring for others – and who our neighbours are –
But Jesus wants us to do more than look – He challenges each one of us to do something about it
Next time we see someone where – it lies within our power – to help – we should remember the good Samaritan –and as Jesus says – “Go and do as He did “
God’s commandments tell us that the most important response we can make to our communities is love –
Love can never stand idly by and do nothing –
St Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians
“there are three things that last for ever, faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.
we have the perfect example of how we should love in Jesus Himself –
In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit