You carefully take us by the hand
And guide us on our way each day,
Watching over us diligently,
Nudging us on with encouragement.
You give us wings of freedom
While keeping us close to your heart
You comfort us when we are hurt
And cheer us on when we succeed.
You correct us when we do wrong
And relish us always as your own.
Today: I place my hand in the Divine Parent’s hand.
-Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name, July 7
QUESTION FOR SHARING
If you are comfortable sharing the story, tell about a time when you helped a stranger or when a stranger helped you.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
Luke 10: 25-37
25Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 29But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.35The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’
36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Today I thought we’d try something new. We shall make a midrash of this parable of Jesus. We’ll add or substitute details to make an imaginative re-telling of this story.
Midrash is an ancient Jewish technique for bringing new ideas out of holy scripture stories. Jill Hammer explains midrash well in the introduction to her book Sisters at Sinai, New Tales of Biblical Women:
“Not all midrash comes in the form of story, but the midrashic endeavor is partly an expression of a universal need for story. Stories are a way of obtaining justice, of giving voice, of sharing perspective. They can also be a way of expressing gratitude.
Midrash, in its process, is an act of study, of prayer, and of repairing the world. It is an act of study because it begins with textual exegesis, with finding a point of text on which to hang a new idea…Midrash is an act of prayer because it is a gift to the sacred: It is a way of offering back to the Torah the fruits of our encounter with it. It is a way, as prayer is, of telling the covenantal story, the story of relationship with each other and with God…And finally, midrash is an act of repairing the world, because it seeks to uncover the voices that the text does not hold and forces us to listen to what these voices say.”
Jill goes on to describe an imaginative meditation she had on the subject of midrash. I love this story because it is so much like our own meditation experiences in this group,
“Occasionally, when I am in the process of inventing midrash, I meditate to conjure up images of biblical characters. Sometimes I imagine a palace through which matriarchs and their companions move, and I follow them and speak to them. Once, almost a decade ago, I imagined myself sitting and studying Torah with the matriarch Leah, who in the Zohar is associated with Divine wisdom. She taught me from Deuteronomy 22: 6-7, which reads: If, along the road, you chance upon a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs and the mother sitting over the fledglings or on the eggs, do not take the mother together with her young. Let the mother go, and take only the young in order that you may fare well and have a long life.
‘What does this mean?’ I asked.
‘The mother bird is Torah,’ Leah said, ‘and the nest holds the traditions of the Jewish people. Sometimes it is necessary to climb the tree and take the eggs – to find something in the Torah and use it in a new way. When you do this, be sure to let the essence of the Torah remain. The mother bird must fly free, so that she will continue to give life, to lay new eggs for a new generation of Torah seekers. If you act in the way, the new thing you create will be strengthened.’”
Let’s work on substituting modern people and settings for this parable.
Write down your own answers to some of these questions:
Who asks Jesus “And who is my neighbor?”
Where could the parable take place today?
Who is traveling and why?
Who passes by on the other side?
Who stops to help? How? Where does he/she take the wounded person?
Combine your answers into a modern story that roughly parallels the lawyer questioning Jesus, and Jesus’ parable.
Take yourself through the relaxation talk, relaxing from your toes up and breathing in God’s light, comforting darkness, love, strength and healing power.
Take yourself through your re-telling of the parable with the new details you provided. Find where YOU might fit in, either as a participant in the parable or even a listener as Jesus tells his story. Towards the end of the meditation, have a conversation with Jesus about the story, your part in it, or any questions you may have. Leave some silence for answers to come.
On some lovely note cards, you might want to write out your own personal prayers in the three categories written about by wonderful author Anne Lamott:
HELP THANKS WOW
You might want to keep adding daily to these three prayer categories. Ask yourself, “Where do I or others need help? What can I be grateful for? What made me think “Wow!” today?
The True Rest
Rest for the frequently restless.
Rest for the easily slighted.
Rest for the unjustly treated.
Rest for the inwardly disturbed
Rest for the innocently harmed.
Rest for the physically pained.
Rest for the harshly betrayed.
Draw us close when we are in need.
Do not let us forget what we can receive.
Today: I find needed rest in The True Rest.
-Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name, July 9