Ponderings of the Spiritual Life Director – June 5, 2019

Transformation: Lessons From the Good Samaritan

Ponderings of the Spiritual Life Director

Most of us are familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan and its strong moral message: everyone, everywhere is our neighbor and we are called to take care of one another despite our differences. As Adam (your music director and speaker this coming Sunday) and I were discussing music for the upcoming worship service and the connection between my message on transformation last Sunday and his topic this Sunday, I asked him if he had any ideas for what I could write about in this week’s newsletter to help bridge our messages. He suggested the Good Samaritan story. I can’t say any feelings of enthusiasm swept over me. Isn’t the story and it’s message just all too familiar? So, he turned to Wikipedia and started reading me the many allegorical and ethical interpretations of the story that have been hundreds of years in the making. Interesting.

The greater meaning of the story that Martin Luther King, Jr. offered is the interpretation that I connected with the most– it resonates with me on a deep spiritual level and is connected to the thoughts of liberation theology that I offered you on Sunday. Here’s the passage from Wikipedia:

“Martin Luther King, Jr. often spoke of this parable, contrasting the rapacious philosophy of the robbers, and the self-preserving non-involvement of the priest and Levite, with the Samaritan’s coming to the aid of the man in need. King also extended the call for neighborly assistance to society at large:

On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

On Sunday, I spoke of creating a culture that operates outside of the larger systems of oppression in which we live. I embedded it in a Taoist philosophy that attunes us to the nature of things and guides us to be gentle and soft like water, which flows around the hard rocks, eventually wearing them away. Really, it’s just one perspective on how to align our values with our actions, but allowing for “The Way” to guide us ought to be a part of the fabric we weave together to solve problems and find creative solutions.

I don’t have a solid grasp on how to transform the road to Jericho, but I’m looking forward to this year’s UUA General Assembly which is offering many workshops that address racial injustice and poverty, unlearning white supremacy, collective liberation, intersectional organizing, and saying yes to the “power of we” (this year’s theme). I can’t wait to bring back ideas and a recharged enthusiasm on how to move forward as a loving, embracing, and change-making people of faith!