Welcome to Brooklands Digital Church, on this Remembrance Sunday 2020. As always, the service is also available via our YouTube channel.
Our Pastor Rev. Karl Stanfield brings us the message today.
The Bible readings are taken from Psalm 31:1-5 and 31:24, Luke 10:25-37 and John 16:33.
The service starts with a 15 minute countdown, where we share some news and announcements. Please use the scroll bar to skip straight through to the service/message if watching the recording.
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I spoke recently about The Three Loves, looking at loving God, Loving our Neighbour, and loving God’s Creation – which is ‘the work of his hands’, as the Psalmist puts it in Psalm 8.
I have a story to tell you in a while about the work of someone else’s hands – and it was not good. Are our hands sanctified to the Lord in order to do good, or something else? Anyway, I have one word for you today. At least it’s one word in the Koine Greek New Testament, but in English its meaning really needs two or more words – like ‘Good Courage’. It’s a Koine (old) Greek word tharseó (θαρσέω), which is translated and used to tell in English the words spoken by Jesus in John 16. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The NIV translation reads ‘take heart’. Other translations, like the King James translation, use: ‘Be of Good Cheer’, which are the words I want to use today.
Sometimes, the last thing people want to hear in a bad situation is – cheer-up. However, the word in this passage isn’t just trying to make people feel better; it is challenging for people to be courageous. Perhaps something may be overpowering or even overwhelming you and you need an extra special something to get through.
I had popped around the corner to a Nisa shop to pick up some milk, and while standing in the queue I noticed a young man on his way to work; his clothes indicated he was a builder and he was buying just one item – it was a can of Red Bull! It made me wonder what our can of ‘Red Bull’ in life might be. What is it that sharpens our attention and gives us strength in the doldrums of life? It is how we respond to things that are important. If you are down, will you stay there? We always have a choice in life. I say this understanding fully the daily dreadful effect of Covid-19 on some people’s lives.
We also believe that the Holy Spirit can give us the strength to get through difficult situations. If not, we really do not have a gospel to preach. Perhaps this is the day for someone to ‘Take Heart’; to be of ‘Good Cheer’. A victorious life, by God’s grace, is a realistic possibility. The story of Elijah, the great prophet, reminds us that even after multiple victories, we are still mere mortals, and subject to many weaknesses.
This is poignant, not least in the lives of those who have been in front line combat and are suffering from a post-traumatic stress syndrome. We cannot merely say to them, ‘cheer up!’ So here then, is the story; it is the story of the Good Samaritan, and in this story, someone is all…
1. Beaten up
The story of the Good Samaritan is also the story of another person who is beaten up and left for dead – without justification, without reason and without human dignity.
It was a bad day because some poor soul, going about his own business was set upon, beaten up, robbed, and left for dead. It happened then; it still happens today! You may have seen the documentary recently about Damilola Taylor, a ten-year-old London child left to die at night from a mortal wound twenty years ago this month. Sadly, there was no ‘good Samaritan’ that night. I suspect that if Jesus conducted his ministry in the 21st Century and told the story of the Good Samaritan – it would make the front-page news.
You have a spouse, who is physically abused. The child in school, who is ‘different’ becoming the cruel focus of some people’s idea of good fun. The damage from such bullying can stay with some people into adult life. Perhaps you have had an incident you remember as a child and it is still with you as a painful reminder – the effects linger still. Does the Gospel of Christ have anything to offer such people – yes it does! Jesus told this story in response to a question:
“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25) As the discussion progressed, the ‘expert in the Law’ asked a second question; “And who is my neighbour?” There is a present-day turmoil over this very question, everywhere we go! And the Man who is the Gospel shared the Gospel with these words, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36–37)
When we ‘do’ what the good Samaritan does, ‘Beat up’ can be transformed into…
This act of kindness and sheer humanity-to-fellow-man utterly transformed his outlook on life. The action of the Good Samaritan completely changed the complexion of the whole day and the whole story. The man who was robbed and left for dead was still in a bad way, but he was going to recover – thanks to the help of ‘the Good Samaritan’. The song goes, ‘He found me bleeding and dying on the Jericho road and he poured in the oil and the wine…’
It is quite possible that for us the Good Samaritan was also the Good Shepherd. Because it is also true that Jesus finds you and me bleeding and dying on the road of life, and he brings us back from the brink. When we get involved in what Jesus is doing today, we make a difference in peoples’ lives and bring ‘good cheer’.
I want you to think about the simple, yet audacious thing that this Samaritan did. He stopped what he was doing and stopped where he was going (this can be so inconvenient, can’t it). He administered a little bit of First Century, first-aid. Initially, it wasn’t a lot! It is the next bit that stands out for me… ‘Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.’ This is tantamount to saying that he dismounted and walked. It is also tantamount to saying that in order to help someone we have to be inconvenienced in some way.
And there is more! ‘The next day he took out two silver coins 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.”’ (Luke 10: 35)
I have to say that this Samaritan is pretty upbeat about life, and he is infectious. Hmm… now there’s a thing; ‘infectious’ (an interesting word, contemporary even); we know all about that don’t we. What if our Upbeat, go-do-something Gospel attitude could be as good as Corona Virus is bad – in an infectious sort of way?
Such lifestyles rub off upon others. There is a gospel principle at work here. Perhaps that is why Jesus told this story. This is a good heart-warming story. There are lots of stories where the outcome was different – because no one with an Upbeat-Gospel-attitude came along.
I wonder if the Jew in this story became like ‘a good Samaritan’? He is lying in a room at the inn, paid for by this Samaritan stranger, and he is thinking about what has happened. Although he was still nursing his many wounds, he was… filled… with good cheer!
What would he do with how he was treated? His wounds would heal eventually, a few scars maybe… but did his heart heal too? Would he ‘go and do likewise’, as Jesus said? Would he become a mercy-giver? Would he love his neighbour? Would he take risks to do it?
When Jesus died on a cross, He did so . . . full of Hope and Good Cheer. If you have a cross to bear, then you can have Hope and ‘Good Cheer’ ‘in Christ’.
If you believe in Jesus – you better take heart!