Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Parable of the 'Good' Palestinian

Yesterday I gave a sermon at the chapel service for the staff of World Vision in Washington. I was in DC with Porter Speakman to show the film With God on our Side at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation. You can watch a preview here.

At the World Vision chapel service, I spoke about the parable of the 'good' Samaritan. The Samaritans lived in what is now the Occupied West Bank, so if Jesus were telling the story today, he might have used a Palestinian as the good guy. Incidentally, the word 'good' does not appear anywhere in the story. That gives us a clue to what we have done to the story - we have domesticated it and think its a sweet story about being nice to people. But there is more to it - much more.

In reply to a question from a lawyer, Jesus told a story, a parable. A parable is simply a story with a kick in the tail, a story in which we find ourselves an active if unwitting participant rather than an objective observer or innocent passerby.

This parable of Jesus is as topical and controversial today as it was to those who first heard him. Jesus’ audience would have been very familiar with tales of hapless victims, robbed or murdered on that very road. Even today the road from Jerusalem down to Jericho isn’t the kind of road to take the family on a Sunday afternoon picnic. So Jesus had their attention. Christ talked about violence and danger – and we certainly have plenty of that today. He talked about crime, racial discrimination, fear and hatred. In this parable we also see neglect and concern, we see love and mercy. We know very well what the parable says, but what does it mean?

Check out the sermon here.