Lent

2015: The Good Samaritan: Moving Beyond Random Acts of Kindness

Third Sunday in Lent

2015: The Good Samaritan: Moving Beyond Random Acts of Kindness
Le Bon Samaritain (the Good Samaritan) sculpture by Francois Sicard,1896

Pray

Merciful God, Give us grace to see You in the face of our sisters and brothers. Help us to speak words of truth and love — lending a hand to help and not harm as we honor our differences and celebrate our strengths. May we engage in constructive self and communal reflection and have the courage to embrace righteousness so that Your justice can be manifest on earth as it is in heaven. May our daily prayer be like the Psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” — Psalm 19:14

Today we pray for Della Lamb Community Services, Kansas City, MO.; and Mistead Sai.

Learn

Black-Brown and Cross-Racial Alliance Building

Read Luke 10:25-37: The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Since our Sunday School lesson days, we have heard the story of the Good Samaritan as a model of how we should relate to the “stranger” or the “other.” It is a story about intentional acts of kindness and generosity, community relations, and moving beyond the stereotyping of racial and cultural difference — toward a radical hospitality that is grounded in Jesus’ example of love, compassion and just acts. In this text we see that, as he often did, Jesus told a story in order to emphasize his point and raise the consciousness of the disciples or those toward whom his message was directed. The last question posed to Jesus before his reply was, “Who is my neighbor?” He answers by telling the story of a man who was robbed on his journey from Jerusalem to Jericho — stripped of everything, beaten and left for dead. As he lay there, he was ignored and passed over by the establishment; the religious and community leadership refused to come to this man’s aid. The text does not tell us where the man who suffered was from, all we know is that at his lowest point, wounded and stripped of his humanity, he was shunned by the very ones who should have protected and cared for him.

We know how the story ends. The Samaritan — the one whom the establishment considers an outcast because of his religion, race and ethnicity — is the very one who comes to help the stranger get up, clothes him, and secures shelter for him.  
We do not know if the stranger was a Jew or a Gentile. Perhaps he could have been Samaritan, or someone else from a marginalized group. Yet what we do know is that regardless of race or religion, social condition or reputation, one person extended grace and compassion to another. Through this act of solidarity and kindness the two became more than just neighbors. They became allies — brothers in the human family, across socially constructed differences. We can learn so many lessons from this story, but the greatest is to heed to what Jesus says at the end of the text: “Go and do likewise.” Let us do as our Savior has instructed us all to do.

Mentor

Many times — because of social condition, economic status, religious practice or denominational preference, and particularly racial or ethnic categorization — people do as the leaders in the biblical story did: ignore, erase or ostracize the other. We all must be mindful, in all communities but especially among communities of color, not to allow structures of racial oppression push us further from building necessary and meaningful alliances to resist injustice. In what ways has your church, conference or unit helped to build community relations in your area across culture, race or ethnicity? How have you moved beyond random acts of kindness to incorporating intentional acts that seek to end injustice? How have you participated in sustainable social programs that seek to serve persons who are victims of the ongoing legacy of racial injustice?

For nearly a century and a half, United Methodist Women has been a champion of leading the way toward justice and liberation for those who are considered the last, the least and the left out of society. How can we embody Jesus’ charge to “Go and do likewise?” Let us be more like the Good Samaritan, not only in distant places fulfilling our charitable duty as Christians. Let us participate in intentional acts of kindness and radical alliance-building regardless of race and across cultural and ethnic differences wherever we find ourselves. Then the answer to Jesus’ question of “who is our neighbor” becomes clear — all are my sister and brother when we walk in the love, solidarity and compassion of Christ.

Transform

What role can you play in building alliances across races? Where might you have an opportunity to build bridges across cultures in your community? Where have you passed by when you could have built bridges across difference?

Journal: Sit in a quiet place. Read the Bible passage with the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). After you have read and processed the scripture, write a one to two-page journal entry reflecting on the following questions:

  • Who do I most identify with in the story?
  • Based on the story, what might I need to do to build genuine, mutual, and just cross-racial alliance?        

Discuss: With a small group of five to seven people, reflect on the following:

  • What is the value of alliance building among and between black and brown communities?
  • What is the value of white people working to support black-brown or brown-brown communities and building cross-racial alliances?
  • What is United Methodist Women’s history of cross-racial alliance building?

Explore Models: Use the report Crossing Boundaries compiled by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)—a United Methodist Women partner organization—to explore how community organizations working for racial justice and immigrant rights have been building relationships across racial and cultural difference.


The Rev. Dionne P. Boissière is chaplain at the Church Center for the United Nations. Janis Rosheuvel is executive for racial justice for United Methodist Women.

Posted or updated: 3/4/2015 11:00:00 PM
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