“What Have Others Heard About Us?”
Rev’d. Tanya Stormo Rasmussen
Joint service of Congregational Church of Hollis, UCC,
with Brookline Community Church at Lake Potanipo
14 July, 2019
- How many of you have NEVER heard the story of the Good Samaritan before?
Every one of you who’s heard it has also heard the story of the religious leader who walked past the man in need. And you’ve heard the story of the lawyer/politician who walked past the man who was desperate for help. You may not know all the details or the circumstances behind their decision not to help, but you HAVE heard that they chose not to help the man who was in desperate need. And you know that they will forever be remembered for not helping. Their legacy, the story about their lives that will forever be remembered, is that when they saw someone in need, they actually crossed the road to avoid helping, to avoid the awkwardness or discomfort, to avoid the sacrifice. Whatever it was they were avoiding, they were also
Most of you who’ve heard the story also have heard that Jews and Samaritans weren’t friends. They hated each other. It’s why he was dubbed the “good” Samaritan—as if the assumption was that most of the rest weren’t so good. Isn’t this just how stereotypes work? We label entire groups of people, and taint individuals, by virtue of a small snippet of information that gets expanded to characterize and demonize or dehumanize an entire group.
What do you think is the main point Jesus was trying to make in our first lectionary reading this morning?
- The second lectionary passage is also about word spreading about certain individuals. In our second lesson, Paul was writing to the young but growing congregation in Colossae, which was located in what’s today is the country of Turkey.
Paul exudes enthusiasm for them because of what he’s heard about them—the ways that they care for one another and for others in need; their care and concern for “all God’s people”. Let’s face it: our actions tell stories about us, and word travels. The Colossian Christians may not have thought they were doing “big things”—they were just living out the values they professed as people who were trying to follow Jesus’ teachings and even the teaching of the Jewish law. But they were gaining a reputation for their good works, however small or great they may have been. Word was spreading, and other people were hearing about their example. Unlike the religious leader and the lawyer in Jesus’ parable, the Colossians’ reputation was not that of being avoiders or bean-counters or squeamish types when it came to helping others. They were generous and welcoming, and Christ-like in their willingness to draw the circle wide and welcome the stranger and the friend as equal neighbors.
- Who’s heard about us? Do you ever wonder what other people have heard about our churches? Let’s talk about that a little bit this morning.
Folks from Brookline Community Church, what have you heard about the Congregational Church of Hollis? CCH folks, what have you heard about BCC?
What do we WANT people to hear about us? What does our baptismal identity ask us to make known about ourselves? And how will we make sure that people are talking about the things that matter to us about who we are and what we’re about?