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Weekly Bible Study and Worship Resources for Ordinary 15

Year C, Colour = Green


 Ordinary 15 Year C

Introduction


The Good SamaritanPut 100 theologians into a room and ask them how to inherit eternal life and there will probably be at least 100 different answers. There would probably some very complicated answers too. So, it is refreshing that in the Bible reading from Luke today the answer which Jesus agrees with is very straightforward.

The way to inherit everlasting life is by loving God and loving our neighbour. There you have it, show love and live. The problem is that Jesus defined neighbour in the widest possible sense. Jesus wants us to love not just the people we like or live near to, he wants us to love the horrible folk we would rather cross the road than even talk to. It all seemed so simple but actually its easier said than done. 

Opening Verse of Scripture Luke 10:27

'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, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'"

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Give us, we pray, gentle God, a mind forgetful of past injury, a will to seek the good of others and a heart of love, that we may learn to live in the way of your Son, Jesus Christ, through whom we pray. Amen.  Methodist Worship

Eternal God, giver of love and peace, you call your children to live together as one family. Give us grace to learn your ways and to do your will, that we may bring justice and peace to all people, in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.   Methodist Worship

Merciful God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as pass our understanding: pour into our hearts such love towards you that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire, through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.   Common Worship

Creator God, you made us all in your image: may we discern you in all that we do; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. Common Worship Shorter Collect

First Bible Reading Deuteronomy 30:9-14

Then the LORD your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The LORD will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, if you obey the LORD your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

Second Reading  Colossians Chapter 1:1-14

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints-- the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.
You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Good SamaritanGospel ReadingLuke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: "'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, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?" In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' "Which of these three do you think was a neighbour 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."

Post Communion Prayer

God of our pilgrimage, you have led us to the living water: refresh and sustain us as we go forward on our journey, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.


Commentary

‘The Good Samaritan’ We are told today that an expert in the law comes to speak to Jesus and poses a question, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life.’ It is not usual for a lawyer to cut so quickly to the crux of the matter, but credit where credit is due. This is perhaps the most important question which anyone ever asked of Jesus. The lawyer has put his finger on the single most important source of human angst and hence the answer of Jesus becomes perhaps the most famous of all parables of Jesus.

This is a wonderful passage for anyone who wonders whether they are acceptable to God. The answer which Jesus gives involves him teasing the man with the phrase, '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 love your neighbour as yourself'. But we cannot escape the fact that when asked how we inherit eternal life, Jesus devotes the vast majority of his answer to a story about a Samaritan and how he reacted when faced with a difficult decision. Jesus is asked about eternal life and he answers in a story about human lifestyle. You might have expected Jesus to devote himself to teaching about spectacular spiritual qualities. You could be forgiven for expecting Jesus to go on at length about religious devotion, but he doesn't. He talks about human pity, nursing care, sacrificial giving of your own transport and shelling out cash for someone other than yourself. It is these ordinary human qualities of love and care which are given status by Jesus.

Professional religious people will sometimes try to convince us that certain spiritual activities are what God is really concerned about. Subsequently many people live their lives with spiritual guilt because they think they are missing the spiritual target. If we are not careful, coming to church can be disappointing a little like going to Weightwatchers each week and finding that you haven't lost enough weight. However if you want to know how to please God, do not be concerned about distractions, look at the Samaritan. These are the qualities which God looks for. How we treat not just one another, but all others, this is the acid test of our love for God, and it is this lifestyle which counts before God. Love for God has so often been associated with particular expressions of behaviour.

If we think of love for God and we are honest, then we are often tempted to think of particular spiritual behaviour. A common word used these days is 'spirituality', all kinds of books are being written, courses and retreats organised about spirituality. It is in a sense a bit of a mysterious word, and for the uninitiated it is perhaps perceived as something reserved for those who are on a higher spiritual level capable of receiving better signals from the divine stratosphere. Whenever you hear the word 'spirituality' remember that Jesus tells us that when it comes to the crunch, the bottom line is this, what matters is what we would do if we went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.

Spirituality is not about religious exercises, it is about how we live our Christian life and if it isn't about that then it is just self-indulgent rubbish. The techniques and spiritual hoops which we may like to try and jump through are largely of human making. Different spiritualities have stressed prayers, rosaries, meditation, Bible study, sacraments, retreats, pilgrimages, alpha courses, the list is endless. These are just some things which some people have found helpful, to other people they may be an anathema. There are obviously good spiritualities and bad spirituality, but what defines them as such is how well they equip us to be obedient to Christ. We do not have to be the same, the way that you and I relate to God may be very different, the proof of the spiritual pudding is however in how we are changed to follows our Master.

So how can we become the kind of people who will inherit eternal life? How can we change what is dreadful within us and become more like the example of Christ? We must realise that (for want of a better word) our religious activity is not about a journey of self-discovery, it is not about self-satisfaction. We seek after the will of God and we sit at Jesus feet like Mary in order that we may go out and serve him like Martha. It is my firm conviction that if we sit honestly at Jesus feet we instinctively want to go out into his world to serve him. Spirituality is not self-seeking, or self-serving, it is about becoming the kind of people who are committed in their faith, who are prepared to go out and be the good Samaritan.

The parable is also a fine example of what prayer is all about. The Good Samaritan could have passed by on the other side of the road like the others and then prayed for the man in need? Quite possibly the priest remembered the man in his prayers that night. Quite possibly the Levite remembered him in his prayers that night also. Those prayers were totally unacceptable, Jesus used those people as examples of people who missed the mark. The 20th century theologian Karl Barth once wrote that "to clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world." Put simply prayer is a beginning, but prayer isn't magic. If we pray for the people who fall among thieves and then walk by on the other side that uprising will never happen through our prayers. It was this action of the Samaritan which was considered worthy by Jesus.

Often people feel intensely guilty about their spiritual devotion and imagine that they should be doing something which they are not. Jesus said, 'if you love me you will keep my commandments,' Prayer is not just about saying words but it is about an attitude of life and of the heart. About being prepared to disturb the complacency of our lives and put ourselves at risk. This is real spirituality, real Christianity and it puts us in God's good books. Charles Royden

 

Meditation

It took me a long time to learn that God is not the enemy of my enemies. He is not even the enemy of His enemies. Martin Niemoller

For Christians the man who fell among robbers is Christ himself. Jesus taught us that whatsoever we do to the least of these, we do to Jesus himself. So it is that Christians are called to see the face of Jesus in the poor, the needy, the outcast, and the lowly. having compassion. The love of God is always connected to the love of neighbour. One Desert Father taught his disciples to draw a circle with a compass. God is the centre point, he said, and we are all of us at the circumference making our journey to God. As our line draws closer to God, our line also gets closer to the lines of others. The closer we get to God, the closer we get to one another; and the closer we get to one another, the closer we get to God. Today we are asked whether there are limits to our compassion. It is easy to speak of our love for humankind and ask God to enhance this love in our lives. It is much harder to love the person who always parks their car outside our house or who has children who make a noise and play in the street. Our neighbours are not those we like, they are those we find difficult, or like the Samaritan those we are told we should hate. As Christians we do not get to choose, whenever somebody is in need, we are to treat them as we would treat Christ himself, nobody should ever get passed by.

 

Hymns

  1. Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord! (Tune: Woodlands)
  2. When I needed a neighbour Tune: Neighbour by Carter)
  3. Brother let me be your servant
  4. O happy day

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

representation of prayer as seed growing

 

"Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die."

Grant, O Lord, that in your wounds I may find my safety; in your stripes, my cure; in your pain, my peace; in your Cross, my victory; in your resurrection, my triumph; and in the glory of your kingdom, a crown of righteousness; for your tender mercy’s sake. Amen Jeremy Taylor, 1613-1667

Guide us by your unchangeable Spirit, O God, that we may seek peace and pursue it, that we may follow in the way of righteousness, increase in our knowledge of the one true light and seek the goodness and welfare of all, until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of Christ, for ever and ever. Amen. George Fox (1624-1691)

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified:
hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people, that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in holiness and truth to the glory of your name; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Eternal God, giver of love and peace, you call your children to live together as one family. Give us grace to learn your ways and to do your will, that we may bring justice and peace to all people, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

 


     

    Additional Resources

First Additional Commentary

"A priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan were going down the road and..." This could have been a humorous story from two thousand years ago. But of course anyone familiar with the New Testament recognizes it as one of the most memorable parables of our Lord. The Samaritan is the unlikely hero of this story. His kindness and generosity towards a complete stranger make him the perfect example of what Jesus means by the word "neighbour."

To enjoy the full impact of this parable we have to remember the circumstances of its telling. Jesus is responding to the question, Who is my neighbour? This question is posed by a scholar who had hoped to put Jesus at a disadvantage and failed. The question itself implies that some boundaries can be imposed on the term "neighbour," as if to say some people qualify and some do not. It all depends on where they live in relation to where you live.

Jesus removes all boundaries to the term by shifting the standard. The issue is not how others relate to you but how you relate to them. The Samaritan makes himself a neighbour to a perfect stranger. Our own language testifies to the success of this parable. We commonly refer to a generous person as a "Good Samaritan." But that of course overlooks the real lesson of the parable, which is to make ourselves good Samaritans to the people around us.

The Good Samaritan could have passed by on the other side of the road like the others and then prayed for the man in need? Quite possibly the priest remembered the man in his prayers that night. Quite possibly the Levite remembered him in his prayers that night also. Those prayers were totally unacceptable, Jesus used those people as examples of people who missed the mark. 20th century theologian Karl Barth once wrote that

"to clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world."

The prayer is a beginning, but prayer isn't magic. If we pray for the people who fall among thieves and then walk by on the other side that uprising will never happen through our prayers. It was this action of the Samaritan which was considered worthy by Jesus. Often people feel intensely guilty about their spiritual devotion and imagine that they should be doing something which they are not. Jesus said, 'if you love me you will keep my commandments,'

not that we will perform religious devotions. Ultimately all of our religion is tested in the fire of daily living, to what extent does what we pray make a difference to how we live? 

Second Commentary

Josephus, a Jewish historian who was born around the time of Christ tells us about the conflict between the Jews and the Samaritans in his book, Jewish Wars. A Jew, on his way to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, is attacked and murdered in a Samarian village called Gema. The Jews demanded that the Roman Procurator, Cumanus, take action and bring the murderer to justice. Unfortunately Cumanus procrastinated and the Jews, under the leadership of Eleazar ben Deinai and Alexander, took the law into their own hands and marched upon a toparchy called Acrabatene where they slaughtered the Samarians and razed their villages to the ground.

Seen in this context the story of the good Samaritan is particularly poignant. In stopping and assisting the man who was attacked, the Samaritan is not just offering help to him; he's metaphorically turning back the pages of history and offering help to the Jewish nation, an opportunity to change history. The relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans can be different. The pain and hatred that have burned or many years between them can be healed. But the Jews need to let go of their bigotry and hatred. The choice is theirs, the Samaritan man has held out his hand - the Jews, including the expert in the law who had posed the question to Jesus, needed to respond.

The Samaritan takes the man to Jericho, a town where many rich Jewish people lived. Zacchaeus the tax collector, 'one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man', was one of its inhabitants so Luke tells us later in his gospel. Not surprising then that to robbers and thieves the road between Jerusalem and Jericho yielded rich pickings. But despite Jericho's apparent wealth, the Samaritan offers to pay for the injured man. The Jews here may have been materially rich, but spiritually they were poor.

Before the Samaritan had arrived on the scene, two prominent Jewish figures, both experts in Jewish law, had passed by on the other side of the road. Who is my neighbour the expert in the law enquires of Jesus. All of them would know that the Jewish law (Torah) defines 'our neighbour' as anyone at all that they could help.

Who is our neighbour? Is it someone we can help? Or are there perhaps years of history that prevent us from helping someone in need? Perhaps someone we need to forgive for a wrong they did many years ago. Perhaps someone who is holding their hand out to us and asking us to respond in love, not bitterness. Perhaps we need to see something in a different light, from a different perspective so that God's love can be seen in a different light and a different perspective too.

Restoration, healing and wholeness have always been characteristics of God's love to us and the world.

Rev Dr Sam Cappleman

Prayer

Father God, help us to overcome bitterness, and hardness in our lives. Turn our coldness into your warmth. Help us to be open to you so that we can be open to others. Strengthen us to hold out our hand so you can hold out yours.Amen

Lord and Father, nothing and no one is strange to you. Give us the will and the words to go to those who are strange to us, bearing your love and to speak your name at your moment. Give us the grace and the privilege of making you known in Jesus. Amen

O gracious and Holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive Thee, diligence to seek Thee, patience to wait for Thee, eyes to behold Thee, a heart to meditate upon Thee, and a life to proclaim Thee; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen St Benedict

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

God our Father, you made each of us unique and unrepeatable. Inspire me to live in such a way that I respect others and am ready to learn from all who are part of my life this day. Amen.

Lord we remember before you all our brothers and sisters who are weighed down with suffering. Bless and guide us that your love may be reflected in our concern for the hungry, the oppressed and the unloved. Help us to acknowledge and grow in appreciation that all people are made in your image and likeness. Amen.

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our brothers ands sisters throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them by our hands this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love give peace and joy Amen.

Meditation

 Rabbi Hillel, one of the great Jewish teachers who lived around the time of Christ summed the great commandment up, saying - "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Go, learn (it)!"

Meditation

The commentary this week is by the NCH
The Old Testament’s justice and righteousness cannot come about and the New Testament’s eternal life cannot be won unless God’s people follow the two great commandments. Unless we love our neighbour we cannot truly love God. But we, just like the ancient Israelites, create other ‘false gods’ and distractions in our lives, which serve our purpose rather than God’s, diverting our love from Him and our neighbour and keeping us busily unable to respond to the challenge Jesus presents through his parable of the Good Samaritan. He teaches that what you believe counts for little unless you live it out – neighbour is as neighbour does. At the time of Luke writing, many would have understood ‘neighbour’ to mean fellow Jews. So the priest and Levite under this definition are neighbours but the Samaritan is not. What’s more the Samaritans were despised by the Jews and the feeling was mutual (see the disciples’ comments in the previous chapter when Jesus was denied a welcome in a Samaritan village). In fact the passage may even have come to be titled the Good Samaritan because all other Samaritans were considered bad! Those listening to Jesus would have been shocked and amazed by the intervention of the Samaritan whereas they would probably have understood the actions of the holy men who walked on by. They would have empathised with the priest who was simply following religious law, forbidding him from going near a dead body because then he would lose his turn of duty in the temple. As in Amos, the temple and liturgy have a higher claim than the needs of fellow men. By the end of the parable, the hated outsider becomes the true neighbour because of what he does for the victim. Jesus redefined ‘neighbour’ as not just kith and kin, or a matter of personal choice, but the person you think of as your enemy. He exposed the deep-seated racial and social prejudice that had become an acceptable way of life. He challenged the view of the Samaritan as the least likely to help, but who actually did far more than was needed and who was compassionate, tender, thoughtful, generous, trustworthy and honest –not exactly the character profile that the Jews would have wanted to attribute to a Samaritan. So what about the social prejudices and negative stereotypes of today – young people involved in antisocial behaviour, asylum seekers, those living on benefits – some of the underclasses of our modern-day society? Are we moved to action by those who have been dealt a rough deal, mistreated, suffering or in need? Or do we feel sorry, say a quick prayer, then move swiftly on, leaving others – or no one – to pick up the pieces and do what we should have done? As with the priest, Levite and the Old Testament Israelites, we can be sure that we will be judged not by our religious beliefs alone but by the life we live and how we treat others. We are asked to love not only ‘people like us’ but anybody in need, including strangers, enemies and those who have brought trouble on themselves. There are no longer any limits to the definition of ‘neighbour’, just as God’s love through Jesus is indeed limitless. In the prayer of thanksgiving that opens Paul’s letter to the Colossians there are echoes of the Amos passage, that once again God has rescued and delivered his people from darkness, this time through giving us his son as the example to follow. It is to him that we must look to understand and practice God’s love. True followers of Christ do not have an option to pull down the shutters and ignore the uncomfortable issues that he presents us with. Rather he points us to the Samaritan, warning that we will need to go out of our way, risk something of ourselves and pay a personal price to love our neighbour and our God. The command from Jesus is clear: ‘You go, then, and do the same’. NCH

Hymns

  1. Lead us heavenly father lead us
  2. Jubilate
  3. There's a wideness in God's mercy
  4. Great is thy faithfulness
  5. Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord! (Tune: Woodlands)
  6. When I needed a neighbour (Tune: Neighbour by Carter),
  7. Kneels at the feet of his friends
  8. Brother let me be your servant
  9. Jesus Christ is waiting (Tune Noel Nouvelet)
  10. O worship the King
  11. I am a new creation
  12. Kneels at the feet of his friends