I read a headline in the New Canaan Advertiser that got my attention.
It went something like, “Another Person Hit by Vehicle; Driver Stays.”
With the number of people getting hit on the side of the road around here it is indeed troubling. I have stopped running on the road – I now only take the sidewalk until I get to one of the town parks to run. Even still I heard of a service van losing control and hitting someone on the sidewalk on South Avenue last week. We need to stay alert and be on the lookout – not only for ourselves and for drivers, but also to other pedestrians. Being our neighbor’s keeper is a constant calling as Christians – with this present danger around us it becomes even more paramount to remain alert. To me, the most troubling part is the second part of this headline – that it is news that the driver actually stuck around to see if the person was OK and take responsibility for the accident. On Tuesday I went to the police station to pick up one of those magnet bumper stickers to “Slow Down in Our Town.” I’m not sure if it will do any good, it might. I know however it will remind me of my responsibility as a driver to be ever on the lookout for those walking around me. I recently read again Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 with fresh eyes. I invite you to do the same. If you are unfamiliar with the story, Jesus portrays in this amazing parable a person beat up by the side of the road. Passersby walk around him – a note worthy citizen; a clergy person. It is only an outsider, the least likely of all people, a Samaritan, that stops to care for the person’s injuries. This Samaritan put the injured person on his animal – takes him to an inn to recover. He even checks back with the innkeeper to make sure the healing continues and that all expenses are paid in full.
We do not have a hit and run God – here one minute and gone the next. Nor does Jesus only tend to our needs, but then leaving us behind. When we see God as distant or Jesus as making a brief entrance into our lives only to slip away into the pages of time, the Bible becomes just a history book, a mythology, a way of talking about what God once did or meant to people but somehow misses the complexities of our modern/postmodern lives completely. One of my teachers in seminary, Dr. Terrance Fretheim, describes God in quite the opposite way. In his book, The Suffering of God. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), Fretheim describes the growing proximity of God to us throughout history – who first spoke in creation, sent prophets to speak on his behalf, and then came closer, in the word made flesh, Jesus the Christ.
” God’s act in Jesus Christ is the culmination of a longstanding relationship of God with the world that is much more widespread in the Old Testament than is commonly recognized” (p. 166).
Jesus gets closer – in his birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and coming of the Spirit. Jesus draws nearer – in the pages of Scripture, but also as we hear it, read it, live it – here and now. Jesus stays – he is the Word of God, the Word made flesh – the very presence of God. His promises live on the lips of every believer, and he is present among us always, checking in to make sure our healing continues; reminding us that all expenses are paid in full.
We are more than Good Samaritans in the world. With Christ on our lips and in our hearts, we are to live, serve, and respond not only as if Christ is with us, but as Christ to others. Martin Luther reminds us,
“It is important for us to keep in mind that we too, were in need and lacked God’s mercy. But freely in Christ, our heavenly Father has come to our aid. So our works ought to be directed freely toward our neighbor. Each of us should become a Christ to the other. And, as we are Christs to one another, the result is that Christ fills us all and we become a truly Christian community…(the church).” (The Freedom of a Christian . trans. Mark D. Tranvik, [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008], pp. 83-84.)
A true act of faith is not only to believe that Jesus once came to our aid on a cross long ago, but to live into the promise that the risen Jesus is still here! He in lives, in with, and under your life, through a living Word that comes to us anew in each waking moment; whether we are sitting behind a desk, or paying close attention to those walking on the street. In our time of need now, Jesus stays. That is the headline – Jesus lives, and stays here among us. Our calling, is to be just as ever present to those who need us – our families, our church, our co-workers, fellow students, those in the wider communities in which we live and those we can help everywhere. Let the headline about us be that in a world full of hit and runs we stay, as Christ stays with us.
Be alert. Buckle up. Slow down. Use the sidewalk. Hold hands across the street and wait to cross until the crosswalks. Stay tuned to the news and what is happening in God’s world. Keep your Bible open and your hands folded. Look for others around you. Help as you can. Christ is risen! He lives in you. Go in peace. Thanks be to God.
Jesus promises, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).