Written by Gradye Parsons
Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.
My grandson is at the age where my and mine can become rather loud. He also is very committed that whatever he is eating is shared by everyone else. If you don’t mind the sticky hand that is offering goldfish crackers to you, it can be a sweet learning moment.
In Luke 10 we have a grownup trying to learn this lesson. A lawyer stands up and asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asks him what the law says and the man replies correctly. Then the big question comes. “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus sees this as an educational moment. It is a moment containing not just information, but also transformation. A literal answer might have sufficed for the day but would have left the lawyer with a smaller soul, not a larger one.
The story we know as the Good Samaritan brings together elements of a crime story, a pair of callous religious leaders and an unlikely compassionate hero. The lawyer might have liked the crime story since it was his arena of life. Poking fun at the two religious workers would have appealed to the crowd gathered since no doubt they suffered from similar snubs. But Jesus surprises them all with the hero—a hero that makes them rethink everything they know and believe about prejudice.
Education is like that, especially spiritual education where you think you are learning a fact. That fact has a funny way of becoming a factor in the way you live. You live a life where you celebrate all of your neighbors on this little planet.
Good ole John Calvin said it this way:
“All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors.”
Those blessings include being loved in Jesus Christ, forgiven with tons of grace, and equipped to live a worthy life. And yes to remembering to always share your goldfish crackers.
As I look over the monthly columns that I have written in the past twelve months, I realize that a fourth of them have been about racism. The latest public incident is the murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church (Mother Emanuel) in Charleston, South Carolina. Mother Emanuel is another in a long tragic list of African American churches that have been bombed, burned, shot up, and defaced.
People like to use numbers to measure. Your doctor wants to know your blood pressure, your dentist wants to know how many times you floss, and your spouse wants to know on what temperature the thermostat is set. In the church we tend to count two things: how many members and how much money. In some sense we are counting how much have we gathered in our fold. But what if we counted a different measurement?
If you go to a university that is known for the song “Rocky Top,” then it would seem likely that you might study geology. Geology met my science requirement. So I have some understanding of how the earthquake in Nepal happened. The Indian subcontinent plate pushed against and under the Eurasian plate. The constant crashing of the two plates formed and continues to form the Himalayan mountain range. There is already Internet speculation on how the earthquake might have changed the height of Mount Everest.
[한국어] [Español] Well it seemed impossible even on March 22nd, but it does appear that Spring may arrive after all. Back in Tennessee we could still have a succession of mini-winters, but we soften the blow by giving them names like redbud winter or blackberry winter. In South Carolina, my son-in-law has already mowed his yard. In Chicago they still have their snow shovels working. We are in the same season but not in the same way.