Faith Reflection 10/24/13, as sent to us from Joy Smith

Joy Smith,

Luke 10:25–28 and Micah 6:6–8

John Westerhoff, a former professor at Duke Divinity School was once invited to lead a conference on baptism in Belfast, Ireland for both Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy. There was also time for both Protestant and Catholic children from these communities to get to know one another and hopefully break free of the prejudice and hostility they were learning at home, school and - their church.

Each morning Westerhoff began the day with simple prayers that would be acceptable for both Catholics and Protestant. He would also tell a story from the Bible, with the themes of healing and reconciliation. Westerhoff asked the participants to sit in silence and absorb the scripture. Westerhoff says: “The two groups had spent much of the week arguing with each other and talking past each other. I felt like a failure as a teacher." But one morning, a Roman Catholic monk chose to step outside his comfort zone, to break the status quo of adults sitting in chairs while the children sat on the floor. He decided to sit with the kids.

Westerhoff remembers: "I had chosen to tell the story of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' cloak and was healed.

In the silence that followed, whispers could be heard between a little Protestant girl and the Roman Catholic monk.

'Can I touch you?' she asked.

'Of course', he said.

'I'm scared.'


'If my father knew I touched you, he might beat me.'

'Perhaps he does not need to know.'

Then she reached out a finger and touched him. Looking at her finger she exclaimed, 'Nothing happened!' With tears welling up in his eyes, the monk said, 'Yes, it did. You and I will never see the world the same again.”

Micah’s question was reflected in a question Jesus was asked one time: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” It’s a variation on “What does the Lord require?” And Jesus’ answer is as simple and elegant as the prophet’s: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” “Do this and you will live,” Jesus said.

Let me be very clear if you are thinking I am being political from the pulpit. I am not telling you the circle to fill in or what President to vote for on Election Day – but I am asking you - to make sure – your choices are always about justice, kindness, - and humility.

The good news is God intends to transform you and me—to bring us to life, to full and deeply satisfying and fully human - life. God wants that for you and me so much, so desperately and strongly, that God sent Jesus to show us what it looks like.

You just know the real thing – and so does God. Amen.