A few years ago, just before Christmas, our neighborhood was blasted with approximately eighteen inches of snow: worst storm to hit our area in many years. Like most, I was forced to stay home. Yet, in the midst of being stranded at home, there was peace and quiet. Most of us don’t appreciate and fully utilize the words “peace and quiet” anymore. I answered emails, talked to a few folks over the phone.
But… then, I decided to shovel a path for our car. I do have a rather long driveway but that doesn’t usually present a problem. I have a handy little tool called a snow slider that operates much like the plow on a snow truck except I push it. My little gadget is fast and easy to use if the snow is two or three inches. When I placed the slider in front of this pile and pushed, nothing moved. “Oh, no!” (I’m not sure those were my exact words.) So, I grabbed a snow shovel and started digging and digging.
Did I mention there were sixteen to eighteen inches of snow?
I cleared a small path and took a break. Several hours later, I tried again, made more progress and took another break. At this rate, I would likely be shoveling until July. Then, there was a knock on the door.
Across the street, someone years ago, purchased a snow blower but it hadn’t been used in awhile. He whipped that blower out and cleaned off his driveway in minutes. Another neighbor saw what was happening, came over and borrowed his amazing machine. He cleared his driveway and then he did something interesting. He took the blower over to help another neighbor. This neighbor was so grateful; he pitched in and they both went to help someone else. By the time they came to my driveway there was a whole crew, cleaning driveways, drinking coffee, sharing stories and basically having a grand old time.
Within a few short hours, we had a cluster of houses with clean driveways. More importantly, neighbors started crossing over to visit and say thanks. Soon people were going back and forth giving away cookies, coffee, soup and whatever was needed. Others started coming outside to talk and play in the snow. Later, a few from the neighborhood even walked around singing Christmas Carols.
Often, our very best witness as Christians is simply how we respond in a crisis.
The neighbor who took the initiative to borrow a snow blower and clean people’s driveways, likely accomplished more to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ then all the sermons I could preach in a year.
In the story of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10) Jesus illustrates how a lawyer and preacher in their busyness pass right on by the victim of a vicious robbery. A Samaritan who in the eyes of the local people is definitely, “lower class” does the right thing by stopping and helping the hapless stranger. A man despised by the social community is held up by Jesus as a hero and the standard of Godly faithfulness.
Yet again, God teaches a powerful lesson in the midst of a simple task. The lawyer and the preacher said all the right things but the lowly Samaritan practiced what some only preach. All of us in the neighborhood could have cleared our own driveway but most of us would finish the chore feeling cranky and miserable. Instead, our good Samaritan offered a helping hand and taught the true meaning of “love at work.”
Here is the best part – rather than ending up cranky and miserable, we were smiling, laughing and freely sharing our resources. In the midst of shoveling snow, we became a true community of faith. In the midst of crisis, we discovered the joy of helping others.
Isn’t this what being the church is supposed to be all about?
In fact, if more of us made a commitment to actually be “good Samaritans” rather than simply reading about or talking about “good Samaritans” what would happen within our church? Here is my prediction: If you and I learn to do this? Our churches would be full to overflowing. So, as we start 2016, here is a simple prayer to use: “God, help me to be more like the Samaritan and help someone today. Amen.”