First Congregational Church
(United Church of Christ)
Greg Briggs,
Interim Pastor

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720
231-547-9122


Sermon ~ July 14, 2019

  1. Prayer and Introduction
    1. “May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our rock and redeemer. Amen”
    2. Title – First Responders and Good Samaritans
    3. Takeaway – “Your life as a Christian should make non believers question their disbelief in God.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
      1. What are your touch points to help make that true?
    4. Today’s sermon will be more of a Testimonial
      1. Two of my touchpoints are related, the parable of the Good Samaritan and my time as a maritime first responder
    5. EC-SAR – maritime first responders
      1. Ask congregation about boating, sailing, Coast Guard experience
      2. Formative time in my life
        1. Cincture or rope, I wear with my robe is retired rescue line
      3. First Responders
        1. Deal Crisis management – get everyone safe first, then figure out the rest
        2. Good Samaritan Laws & duty to rescue laws
        3. Both on water and on land, many laws have been passed to protect those who are first responders
        4. International Maritime Law – the shipmaster has an obligation to render assistance to those in distress at sea without regard to their nationality, status, or the circumstances in which they are found.
          1. Longstanding maritime tradition and international and US law
        5. Parable of the Good Samaritan
          1. Helped me understand who “everyone” includes
        6. The Story
          1. Samaritan @ First (third) responder
            1. No regard for nationality, status, or circumstance
          2. First and Second people – too much of a hassle. Not worth it.
            1. Those were the religious church goers in the story. Similar issues today
          3. The Wider context – then – Not just about the Samaritan and the injured person, but the wider context of the conversation – Speaking to legal scholar and crowd
            1. Legal scholar
              1. Asked how to get to heaven – and maintained he was following all the rules
                1. Be a neighbor
                2. Your salvation isn’t just centered on you – individually or a church
              2. To crowd, not the usual story of the everyman saving the day from the elites
                1. Usual story telling, then and now. First two are elites and useless, and the third person is the simple, everyday person.  An ancient version of a country music song
                2. Yet, the third was the Hated other. Shocked the crowd as well, they didn’t get off easy, either.
              3. “Good” Samaritan was originally a paradox – something that would make a person pause to figure it out
                1. Did such a good job, that now we don’t blink an eye, and assume that Samaritans are good. Great PR job!
              4. Application of Good Samaritan – Christianity as First Responders
                1. Rescuing people in distress, preparing for next mission, training rescuees to become rescuers
                2. Church is not a business – we don’t deny coverage
                3. Challenge to the church of the 21st century
                  1. On most questions about caring for people outside of our communities, the white mainline church is behind the times. Only one worse is the white evangelical church. 
                    1. Pew survey in May 2018: Should the US accept refugees?
                      1. National average 51% said yes
                      2. White Mainline Protestants 43%
                      3. White Evangelicals 25%
                      4. Black Protestants 63%
                      5. Unaffiliated 65%
                    2. Non church goers get it more than we do.
                      1. Refugees, not illegal immigrants
                      2. Universal Declaration of Human Rights “everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”
                      3. It’s a first responder type situation – care for those in need
                    3. If we mainliners are only focused on the evangelicals, we miss how far behind we are
                  2. We shouldn’t chase trends or bow to opinion polls, ever. We should be grounded in our faith and doing what Jesus calls us to do
                  3. Yet for all the squawking about following the Bible, it’s amazing how we try and avoid clear cut guidance like this parable.
                    1. As in the Good Samaritan – We are the priest and the levite.
                    2. Maybe we don’t need more church people, need more Jesus oriented first responders
                  4. “Your life as a Christian should make non believers question their disbelief in God.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
                4. Deuteronomy reading
                  1. Keeping God’s commandments is here, now.
                  2. This commandment that I’m giving you right now is definitely not too difficult for you. It isn’t unreachable. 12 It isn’t up in heaven somewhere so that you have to ask, “Who will go up for us to heaven and get it for us that we can hear it and do it?” 13 Nor is it across the ocean somewhere so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the ocean for us and get it for us that we can hear it and do it?” 14 Not at all! The word is very close to you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart, waiting for you to do it.
                  3. We talk ourselves out of following the Gospel, because we think it’s too hard, or for someone else.
                5. Safe Church Policies – example of proactive care
                  1. First thing named in Real Good Church for a children’s faith formation program – “There might still be a few parents out there willing to tolerate a disorganized church without a proactive safe church polyciy, but they shouldn’t be willing to: the stakes are too high”
                  2. Discussion of mandated reporting
  • Good Samaritan meaning, then and now
    1. Now, we think of Good and Samaritan as going together like peanut butter and jelly
    2. Then, in Jesus’ time, it was oil and water
    3. This parable was made to make the listeners question what they thought about people they didn’t like
    4. To use Bonhoeffer, it made them question their own disbeliefs
  • Simple Truth of the Gospel – care first. No matter what. No matter when.
    1. Start with yourself
    2. Continue on until you encounter the first person who makes you want to walk away like the priest or the levite.
      1. There’s your growing edge
  • Conclusion – “Your life as a Christian should make non believers question their disbelief in God.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    1. Jesus’ First Responders
    2. Where do you ground your faith?

 

 

  1.  

Readings

Deuteronomy 30:9-14 Common English Bible (CEB)

The Lord your God will help you succeed in everything you do—in your own fertility, your livestock’s offspring, and your land’s produce—everything will be great! Because the Lord will once again enjoy doing good things for you just as he enjoyed doing them for your ancestors, 10 and because you will be obeying the Lord your God’s voice, keeping his commandments and his regulations that are written in this Instruction scroll, and because you will have returned to the Lord your God with all your heart and all your being.

11 This commandment that I’m giving you right now is definitely not too difficult for you. It isn’t unreachable. 12 It isn’t up in heaven somewhere so that you have to ask, “Who will go up for us to heaven and get it for us that we can hear it and do it?” 13 Nor is it across the ocean somewhere so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the ocean for us and get it for us that we can hear it and do it?” 14 Not at all! The word is very close to you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart, waiting for you to do it.

Luke 10:25-37 Common English Bible (CEB)

25 A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?”

27 He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”

29 But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus replied, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. 31 Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 32 Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 33 A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. 34 The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’ 36 What do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered thieves?”

37 Then the legal expert said, “The one who demonstrated mercy toward him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”