August 13, 2007, Enterprise Dispatch
Pastor's Column

‘Go and do likewise’

Minister Signe Gray, Stockholm Lutheran Church, Rural Cokato

“Almighty God, You have commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We ask Your holy and life-giving Spirit to move in every human heart that the barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear and hatreds cease.

“Show us Your presence in those who differ most from us. May the design of Your great love shine on the waste of our wraths and sorrows, and give peace among nations, peace in our communities, peace in our homes, and peace in our hearts. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.” (combined and paraphrased prayer from the Lutheran Book of Worship.)

The Holy Scripture lesson to which I refer is found in three gospels – the fullest story, including the parable of the good Samaritan, is found in Luke 10:25-37.

We hear the term “good Samaritan” many times on the news – it is part of our vocabulary, found even in the dictionary.

During Jesus’ ministry on earth, many people tried to test Jesus as to how to inherit eternal life. In this parable, Jesus tells the man, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 25:27 NRSV

Trying to justify himself, the man, a lawyer, asks more, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds with the parable of the good Samaritan and says to the man, “Go and do likewise.”

I believe that many times, we act like the lawyer in this parable. We think and act like neighbors are only those people who think like us, who act like us, who live like us, who work like us, or who would help us if we were in need. I think many times, we show little compassion to those who are in a different group or category from ourselves; to those whom we are most uncomfortable around.

A prayer that I have prayed with many groups is written here. This prayer was prayed as we temporarily stepped out of our comfort zones. We were moved by God’s power to show compassion to our neighbors in great need.

May each of you be blessed by this prayer to seek ways to show great compassion to your neighbor. May each of you “Go and do likewise.”

“Loving God, bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep in our hearts. Help us to see You in all we meet.

“Bless us with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people and the earth so we will work for justice and search for peace.

“Bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer so we will reach out our hands to comfort, to welcome and to change pain into joy.

“Bless us with the foolishness to think that we can make a difference in the world, so we will do the things that others say cannot be done. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.”

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