The story of the Good Samaritan is timeless. The message is clear. Our job isn’t to ask where someone is from or if they are deserving of our help. Our job is to love our fellow humans. Perhaps now would be a good time for that story to be shared.
Luke 10:25-37 New International Version (NIV)
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise
From the border lands
We feel the children weeping
Lord, please hear their cries
Agents cold as ICE
Breaking families apart
What would Jesus do?
We don’t have to speculate
Lord, hear our prayer
Matthew 19:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
When I was small one of my favorite activities during the Christmas season was rearranging the nativity scene that my mother placed beneath the Christmas tree. It wasn’t a fancy nativity set, in fact, as I recall it was made of heavy duty paper and the figures of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, et. al. were little more than cardboard cutouts, like holy paper dolls.
I’m sure I made them trek to and from Bethlehem a hundred times or more as I replayed the story of Jesus’s birth. That’s probably why they didn’t last much past my childhood.
For most of my marriage I didn’t have a nativity set. I wanted a nice one, and I couldn’t afford to buy a set that suited me. Then about fifteen years ago I won this one as a door prize at a charity golf tournament Studly Doright and my dad played in at Pensacola, FL.
I had to add the stable and the angel, but the rest of the cast was present. Every now and then I take the shepherd and the kings away and make them all play out their parts in the story. Sometimes Joseph manages to get them all a room at a Holiday Inn Express, but usually they make do with the stable. I mostly stick to the tale as told by Luke.
No matter where you are, I hope you and yours enjoy a peace filled Christmas Day.
The Birth of Jesus
2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
The Case of the Missing Mary
By Leslie Noyes
(Note: This first appeared several years ago, back in the good old days when Trump’s candidacy was merely a bad joke. It’s one of my personal favorites. Hope it makes you grin.)
I leaned back in my wooden chair and aimed a dart at the picture of Donald Trump I’d taped to the door of my cramped office. Bullseye, baby. Before I could launch another projectile at the human embodiment of evil there was a tentative rap at the door.
Quickly I stashed the darts, downed a shot of Glenlivet and hid the bottle under the desk.
“Come in,” I intoned with as much gravity as I could muster. I was new at this detective gig and badly needed a client. Throwing darts at Trump, no matter how satisfying, wasn’t paying the bills.
The man who walked through my door was a sight for hungry eyes. Tall, dark, and handsome, and apparently built like Thor if the bulges in his well-tailored suit were to be trusted.
“Excuse me,” he said. “I’m looking for Mr. Noyes, the private investigator…”
“It’s Ms. Noyes,” I smiled. “My receptionist just stepped out for a bit.” Little did he know my receptionist, Glenlivet, was hiding under the desk. I nudged the bottle with my foot for reassurance.
“Oh!” He was clearly flustered, so I rushed to reassure him. Rising from my chair I stepped closer, hoping to encourage him to stay.
“Don’t let my gender color your expectations,” I said. “I’m fully qualified to handle discreet investigations.”
I held my breath as I watched him wrestle with his thoughts. Finally he extended a hand, and I exhaled.
“My name is Joseph. Joseph Carpenter, and my wife has gone missing.”
I motioned for Joseph to have a seat and took my place on the other side of the desk. Pulling out a pen and notepad I asked Joseph for details.
“She was right beside me. We were watching over our newborn son and I turned away for just a second to greet a man, a foreigner of some distinction, who’d brought a baby gift. When I looked back, Mary was gone.”
Joseph’s rugged face collapsed in tears. It took all of my strength to maintain a professional distance. My maternal instincts were urging me to comfort this man, but he didn’t need a nursemaid, he needed a detective. And by God, that’s just what he’d get.
“Do you have a recent picture of your wife, sir?”
“No, we weren’t into pictures. But she was just a little thing. Maybe five feet two. Brown eyes. Dark brown hair. Olive skin. She was, is, beautiful. She has the most beatific smile.”
I tried my hand at sketching a picture of Mary.
“No, her nose is a bit larger,” Joseph said. “Yes, like that. And her lips fuller.”
Finally we had a sketch that Joseph approved.
“Joseph, did you notice any strange characters hanging around, let’s see, the manger on the night of your wife’s disappearance?”
“Well,” he began, “Besides the foreigner there were a couple of other visiting dignitaries. They looked fairly trustworthy; although, come to think of it I have no idea why they dropped by.”
“Ok, that’s a starting place. Anyone or anything else?”
Joseph snapped his fingers. “There was a shepherd there ranting about some star he followed. Could it be…?”
“I couldn’t say right now, Joseph, but I promise to do everything in my power to find your Mary.” I stood and indicated we were through.
“By the way, how’s the baby?” I asked offhandedly. “I know newborns can be a handful. Is it possible Mary just took off?”
Joseph’s temper flared. I could see I’d hit a nerve. “Absolutely not! You have no idea what Mary has gone through to have this child, why….”
I held up one hand. “I had to ask Mr. Carpenter. I believe you.”
I told him I’d need a retainer and I’d bill my services at a hundred dollars per hour. Then I assured him I’d get on the case immediately.
“Money’s no problem. One of those foreign dignitaries brought gold. For a baby!” He shook his head in amazement.
As he paused at the door, Joseph Carpenter turned, his face half in shadow.
“Ms. Noyes. Have you done anything like this before?”
“Yes,” I answered honestly. “Every December.”
Almost every year one piece of my nativity goes missing. One year it was the lamb. I found it nestled next to the Christmas snow globe. Another year it was a wise man, the one carrying myrrh. He didn’t turn up until I was putting decorations away. Apparently the myrrh king had been napping in a Target bag. This year it’s Mary. One can’t very well have a nativity scene without the mother of Jesus. I’ll keep looking. Until I find her I have a cut out Mary from a Christmas card to stand in for her:
The scale isn’t that bad, right?
Will you enter this long sleep with clear conscience, exalted by your good works, camouflaged by your religion?
If you expect pointed fingers to catch you out, they won’t be mine. I’ve hurt my share of people, filled my own bucket with
The dregs of guilt and regret. If anything I will be the one to offer reconciliation, but without the artifice of narrow beliefs.
Think now on those you’ve wronged, those whose affections you’ve betrayed, while anyone without sin casts the first stones.
Will we take our guns to church now?
Jesus take the wheel, but leave me my pistol
Dylan Roof opened fire in a South Carolina prayer meeting
Now more dead occupy the pews in Texas
Just wondering which firearm goes best with Psalms.
Yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil,
For I am armed with a semi-automatic weapon.
No doubt lawmakers will offer meaningless thoughts and prayers
Their mantra sounding weaker by the hour
Who will answer for these deaths?
Who will offer a solution?