Have you ever noticed that when you help someone it just completely changes your day? Right before I left the preschool my teacher’s assistant at the time was someone who didn’t drive and the city bus stop was a mile away. I decided that I would give her a ride to her house at the end of the day. And one day, the director asked me “Why do you do this?” The question baffled me. For me the question was more like why wouldn’t I. I didn’t want to make her stand in the rain, snow, and wind. And there was a simple need that I could easily fill.
In return, I got no money. But it made me feel good inside to do something for someone else. And she and I became good friends in those 10 minutes together in the car. Helping her out sometimes turned around bad feelings inside of me and changed my whole attitude towards my life. It turned very much into a spiritual experience. The Christian practice of service is a spiritual one because when we serve others, when we do God’s work; we do benefit from that. By helping others, we help God. By loving others, we show love and devotion to God. And in so doing, we feel the burdens of our own life begin to fade away. It gives us self worth, and we too feel needed.
For a long time, Christian service had to be completely selfless. But true lives of service can’t be selfless because there is always something that comes back to us. And this is not a bad thing. We are called to experience God through how we interact in the world and sometimes the healing we need, the touch of God that we need comes through the lives that we touch in Jesus’ name.
This is why throughout the Bible we see a focus on laws and parables and teachings that urge us to stop focusing mainly on ourselves and our own struggles and to start living our lives for each other. The Deuteronomic editors of the Hebrew Scriptures knew this to be true. God provided laws to remind people to live in community, to care about each other’s needs, and to prevent abuses. Today’s law about the forgiveness of debts every 7 years was intended to force people to start thinking about each other. It was intended to protect people from the abuses and the stresses of being in debt and then debtor’s slavery that robbed people of their God given freedom. Today we don’t have debtor’s slavery. But we do have people who’s needs far surpass what they can handle and it does infringe on the freedom of their souls.
This isn’t just the poor and the destitute. This could be you, your neighbor, your coworkers, or family members. We are called to help free people from all that hinders their ability to connect with God, to connect with each other, and to live the fullest lives that each person is called to live. I think Helen Keller captured this tenant of the Christian Spiritual Practices the best when she wrote, “Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain”.
We are called to live lives of concern for others as the Samaritan from today’s Gospel lesson did, without question about how this might affect us and our expectations of the day. The Samaritan was on his way to Jerusalem for business, yet he could not just pass this suffering man as others had. He took time away from his responsibilities to sweeten the pain of another. In so doing, he changed his own day. In so doing, he changed that man’s life forever and the lives of his family members and friends.
The care that we live reflects our faith in God; it reflects the true intent that is in our hearts, and it reflects our need to connect with something more than ourselves. For when we help other, when we work to be caring individuals, our lives will forever change. Our outlook on life and the struggles we face will suddenly be less consuming and there will be a sense of freedom in our hearts as we start to place God’s love as the most important part of life. So reach out to others, and with a caring hand, start working to live into God’s call for us to free each other from the constraints that life sometimes puts on us. Christ calls us to serve as a reflection of God in our lives and so we can connect to something more, something higher. Let’s be the good Samaritans of the 21st century, let’s not walk by someone in need. Let us take an active interest in those around us.
So you are looking for someplace to start then join us on October 13th for worship and an outreach project. We will be assembling the care backpacks for children undergoing treatments in hospitals through Project Sunshine. Remember the words of Jesus from this morning, “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise”. We are to go and do likewise; we are to go and care for one another, to serve one another, and in so doing free our hearts from the pains that this world creates and create a close bond with one another and with God.
 Helen Keller, 20th century.
 Luke 10:36-37, NRSV.
(Based on Deuteronomy 15:1-6 and Luke 10:29-37)