2/15/2023 – A Reckless Mercy

The Good Samaritan and the Sower – A Reckless Mercy

Both of the Parables we’ll be exploring this week, the Good Samaritan (which we’ll hear about in Godly Play) and the Sower (which we’ll explore in TSE), reflect a reckless mercy. They are boundary-breaking. They are shocking. Or at least, they were to the original ears who heard them.

I once told an agnostic friend of mine that the Good Samaritan is NOT a story just about being nice, or helping strangers. Sure, it IS these things. It is about charity, giving to those in need, and going the extra mile for our neighbor. But it goes so much further than that. Because the people to whom Jesus shared this story would have understood that the very notion of a “good” Samaritan was impossible. The Samaritans were wrong. They didn’t worship correctly. They didn’t believe correctly. They were on the “wrong side” of God!

Furthermore, the two travelers who refused to help the man on the road did so in order to fulfill their religious and ritual obligations to not become “unclean”. The Samaritan who helped the man on the road did so by BREAKING religious rules, while the two who walked by did so in order to FULFILL all the rules. And yet, it is the Samaritan who fulfilled God’s desire for mercy. As it reads in Hosea, “for I desire mercy, not sacrifice”. God desires our heart, not our creed.

This story represents what I call a “reckless mercy”, a mercy that is willing to say, “I don’t care what the rule says, I will follow mercy”. Let’s put that in modern terms: “I don’t CARE what Deuteronomy says, I will fully love and accept and affirm my LGBTQIA siblings”. Or even more shocking to some, “I don’t care what some religious leaders say, I believe my Buddhist, Muslim and Agnostic siblings are just as loved by God and will stand with me in the Kingdom by virtue of their love”.

And what of the Parable of the Sower? While not as overtly shocking as the Good Samaritan, it paints a picture of a God who sows seeds not just in the “right” places, but absolutely everywhere. In the thorns, on the rocks, on the road. This is a reckless God, a God who doesn’t look at a person and says, “no, I’m not going to waste my love on THAT one”. This is a God who casts love everywhere, all the time, without agenda. This is a God who still loves the absolute worst of us enough to reach out a hand and invite us into the Kingdom anytime we choose to accept that invitation.

My God, what would a world look like that truly embodied this kind of reckless mercy, this kind of reckless love? I venture to say, it might look like the Kingdom Jesus shared with us. So be reckless with your mercy. Amen.

Posted in Children and Youth Ministry.