Don’t Samaritan Lives Matter?

Luke 17:11-19 – The 21st Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 9, 2016

“No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:18)

ten-lepersFirst it was ten men in Luke 17:11-19

Then, as Luke continued the account of this healing, the reader’s informed that the ten men had skin diseases. “Skin diseases” is how the Common English Bible translates leproi from the New Testament Greek. Other translations use leper or leprosy. We now know anyone with a “skin disease” could be labeled as a leper during Biblical times. Regardless of accuracy, they were considered unclean; to be avoided, scorned, and isolated. Their outward appearance served as an obvious clue to their inner sins.

Next in the passage, after instructions from Jesus, and after departing to become clean—healed and acceptable to society—one of the ten returned. He was a Samaritan.

How could Jesus do that!

Why would Jesus do that?

Those two phrases would likely describe the first century listener’s reaction to this tale when one of the healed men is revealed as . . .

The enemy.

The hated.

The other. Continue reading →

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Daydreamer

Luke 17:5-10 – The 20th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 2, 2016

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’” (Luke 17:5)

tree-2I’m a daydreamer. I’ll pass a person, overhear a snatch of conversation, or read verses in the Bible and my imagination is triggered. I am waylaid by the “what ifs.”

This happened with Luke 17:5-10. Why? Because when contemplating and praying about Luke 17:5-10, it frustrated the heaven out of me. What a muddled collection of verses! Here’s my summation of these six dreary verses:

  1. Jesus and his disciples are together.
  2. The disciples requested, “Increase our faith!”
  3. If they possessed even mustard seed-sized faith, Jesus proclaimed, they could hurl a mulberry tree into the sea for extra landscaping.
  4. And then Jesus mentioned how a good servant should act.

Unlike me, perhaps you are a faithful, scholarly type who comprehends the obvious truth of this whole and holy passage. Good for you. Go forth and save the world and/or toss a tree into the sea.

But I daydream. Continue reading →

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She Knew I Knew

Luke 16:19-31 – The 19th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, September 25, 2016

“The poor man died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried . . .” (Luke 16:22)

park-entranceBright lights flashed.

I steered to the shoulder and stopped. In my rearview mirror I watched the Kings Canyon National Park ranger open the door, alight from her seat, and purposefully stride toward me.

My wife sat in the passenger seat, still and silent. Our Minnesota-born niece and nephew, in California to attend college, occupied the back seat. All were witnesses to my foolishness. This was in 2010. I still recall my embarrassment.

The ranger, a slender woman with auburn hair pulled back and a holstered gun on her belt, leaned down and asked me an inevitable, irksome question.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been asked THE QUESTION.

(Don’t judge me! Being stopped by law enforcement personnel hasn’t been a regular experience in my mundane life. Oh sure, there was the “Nebraska incident.” We were headed for our new home and new life in Wisconsin when a Nebraska cop stopped me to wonder why I was leaving his lovely state at such a rapid pace. And there was also that graveside service I was late for, when another cop stopped me for traveling “slightly” over the posted limit. He encouraged me to tell my pastor’s tale of woe and repentance to the traffic judge while handing me a speeding ticket. Such a helpful cop . . . and the judge turned out to be a swell fellow too.)

Like the ranger at my window, all of the cops asked a variation of THE QUESTION . . .

“Sir, do you know why I pulled you over?” Continue reading →

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