And thus began my time every morning at the Project in Los Orquideos, in the Barrio Bolivar Rodriguez in Quito Ecuador.
Having commuted on the bus for about 40 minutes: 25 cents!
Happiness. Poor. Joy.
Leaving northern Quito, in a very nice house.
Two daughters who had graduated from university
Juan has own business and is friends with Bo Derek, has photographed Bill Clinton, and for America’s Next Top Model. Knows the Ecuadorian ambassador to the US very well.
Not an extremely wealthy family, but well connected.
I learned in Quito that in Ecuador (and perhaps in MUCH of South America) CONNECTIONS IS WHERE IT IS AT.
When Carrie – the elder daughter, fell in love and wanted to marry, her father and the Pastor family didn’t do as happens, at least down south in the USA and ask:
“So young man, what are your prospects? What kind of degree do you have? How do you plan to support my daughter financially?”
Instead: Who are your parents? Who do they know? Do they have any connections?
Turns out that Carrie’s now husband, Santiago, HAS connections: his family owns and operates a large palm oil and heart of palm farm in another part of Ecuador!
It’s not a bad thing. It is just the tradition, the way things are done.
People want others TO SEE that they are friends with IMPORTANT PEOPLE.
Not unlike our story for today.
Talk about Good Samaritan story.
Lawyer was faithful. Wanted to justify himself before Jesus.
So, WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
Who do I have to be nice to?
(and perhaps implied) and who can I exclude?!!
In our world today, and particularly in the present situation of THIS WEEK, do we think we can exclude people from those we are called to be kind to? To help? To be neighbors to?
Just who IS my neighbor?
Is it the African descent person who is so fed up with the legal system that they think they can’t get a break, and so they join the Black Lives Matter group to march & speak out in protest?
Is it the police officer, who puts her life on the line EVERY TIME she puts on the uniform and does her best to bring safety and security to the neighborhoods she patrols?
Is it the Latino gay person who finds security in a club in Orlando where they can express themselves when they don’t feel quite so free to do so in the open?
Is my neighbor that person who is supporting the OTHER CANDIDATE (you write to them on Facebook: MY GOSH HOW IN HEAVEN’S NAME CAN YOU SUPPORT THAT PERSON FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES????) Is there some way that I am called to be neighborly, and helpful to THIS person? Would I help them in a crisis?
In today’s bulletin are some very powerful words from Dr. Martin Luther King:
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was:
“If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”
But the Good Samaritan reversed the question:
“If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
So often when we think about serving others, about helping, about going beyond the ordinary to being assistance to those who cry out in pain – we think about ourselves, about our situation.
Jesus tells us (and Dr. King reminds us) that what it means to be neighbor is NOT to exclude anyone but to reach out with a healing touch to those who are in need, no matter the cost.
Not easy. Not something that we are used to.
And in this present culture, it is difficult to figure out exactly WHAT THAT NEIGHBORLINESS LOOKS LIKE.
I don’t have the answers this day on that. But we can explore together what that might look like.
Realizing that we often fall short of the mark – in being neighborly, we can hear the words of Dr. Martin Luther (not King, this time!) who said:
Martin Luther on the Good Samaritan
“After baptism there still remains much of the old Adam (& Eve.)
For, as we have often said, it is true that sin is forgiven in baptism, but we are not yet altogether clean,
as is shown in the parable of the Samaritan, who carried the man wounded by robbers to an inn.
He did not take care of him in such a way that he healed him at once,
but rather bound up his wounds and poured on oil.
“The man who fell among robbers suffered two injuries.
First, everything that he had was taken from him, he was robbed;
and second, he was wounded, so that he was half-dead and would have died,
if the Samaritan had not come to him. ”
Adam (& Eve) fell among the robbers and implanted sin in us all.
If Christ, the Samaritan, had not come, we all would have died.
It is Christ who binds our wounds, carries us into the church and is now healing us.
We are now under the Physician’s care.
The sin, it is true, is wholly forgiven, but it has not been wholly purged.
“If the Holy Spirit is not ruling us, we become corrupt again;
but the Holy Spirit must cleanse the wounds daily.
Therefore this life is a hospital; the sin has really been forgiven, but it has not yet been healed.” (LW51:373)
That is why we need the church.
That is why we need each other.
That is why we are on this journey together – to help each other
BECOME THE SAMARITAN
BECOME THE NEIGHBOR
EVEN TO THOSE WHO WE DON’T WANT TO SERVE!