Dear Church Family and Community,
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
– Luke 10:36-37
I remember it like it was yesterday. My friend Dan and I had finished out our week of work at the factory. Though not too many teenagers we knew could put in the hours we did that June, we did it, and the rewards were finally being realized. We earned our own money, enough to rent a house at the beach with a larger group of friends. With that money, we also had freedom to take in some adventure each weekend.
This particular weekend, we were on the way from our summer home base of Binghamton, NY to meet up with some friends in Central New Jersey. One of our friends had a concert that weekend, if I remember correctly. And we were excited to be around people our age for the weekend, because the factory life with the real adults and their oh too real problems was all becoming overwhelming for us as eighteen-year-olds. So, we finished the week, packed the car, and took off.
About halfway through this supposed three-hour trip, we experienced what we thought was an exaggerated bump in the road. The problem is we don’t remember seeing or driving over anything. After the initial shock subsided, we decided to pull the car over. On the shoulder somewhere on I-287, we discovered that our one back tire was flat. Making matters worse, neither of us had changed a tire before. Kids, life before smart phones was really hard… especially since we had at that point only just mastered printing our driving directions.
As we stood just staring at the tire and trying to call someone, anyone, for some help, we noticed a car pull in right behind us – but seemingly out of nowhere. The car was decorated all over with NASCAR decals. I still don’t know who the world’s number one racing fan is, but this would-be angel certainly has my vote. I also remember us noticing and murmuring to each other how different “Nascar” (our still now affectionate name for our rescuer) was to us; and we even wondered why he had pulled over, and what exactly he was doing in the back of his car.
Seconds (that felt like hours) later, Nascar emerges from the back of his vehicle. He has tools we don’t have. He has know-how we could only dream of. And he proceeds to change out our flat tire, and replace it with a new one! Then he turns, smiles at us, and then drives off. The entire time, we were speechless just watching him. The entire episode was surreal then, and even more so now. As we climbed back into the car to continue our trip, we were both overwhelmed by Nascar’s grace and mercy, and with the love he gifted us that fateful late afternoon.
This story and memory always remind me of the story and teaching Jesus gifts us in Luke 10:25-37. An expert in the Scriptures arises to test Jesus by asking what must be done to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds by redirecting the would-be scholar back to the Scriptures. The expert then answers, well…you must love God with all of your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus affirms his response, and tells him to “Do this, and you will live.” To which the expert responds…and who is my neighbor?
Jesus answers that final question, with one of his most enduring stories ever. You may already be familiar with this story. Even so, I want to invite you to read it multiple times this week. As you read, I would like you to ask and answer the following questions?
Can you stand before Jesus and say that you love him with all your heart?
What are ways you are currently loving your neighbors?
How are you showing mercy to those around you with physical or emotional needs?
What are ways you can be good for the benefit of your world around you?
This week we will continue our Following the Commands of Christ series by focusing on Jesus’ call for us to love our neighbors. I am amazed that Jesus once said that all of God’s law and all the wisdom and teaching of the prophets hangs on two commands: love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. If you want to live? Love God and love others. If you want to honor and glorify God? Love God and love others. If you want to partner with the Spirit to make on earth as it is in heaven a reality? Love God and love others.
This week will also be a very special service, because as a community and HBIC family, we will be dedicating several of our children before the Lord. I love these Child Dedication services because they are opportunities for parents, our congregation, and all the additional visitors we welcome to pledge before God and each other to introduce God and teach the faith to their children, to offer them up for service for God’s kingdom, and in essence to raise them to love God and others with every cherished breath.
God bless you all, and take care.
Love in Christ,
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104
Click to SUBSCRIBE to the Harrisburg BIC Church e-mail list