Awakened at The Inn

Awakened at The Inn June 8, 2023

I was awakened by the innkeeper’s servant. She was a young girl who had been sent to clean my wounds again. I remembered the bandits then. The girl jumped as I cried out and overturned the water bowl she was using. “How did I get here?” I asked her.

The girl went to get the innkeeper. He ordered her to finish what she was doing while he spoke to me. I asked him how I got to the inn. “You were brought here by a…by a stranger.” He said.

“Was it the priest?” I remembered seeing a priest at some point. “Did he come back?”


“Then it was the Levite,” I said.

“I do not know of any priest or Levite,” The innkeeper said. “It was a stranger.”

I realized he did not mean a stranger. “Was it the Samaritan?” I almost shouted the question. The girl stopped her cleaning.

The innkeeper told her to continue. “It was days ago. Do not worry.”

“Days? But the bandits took all  of my money. I cannot pay you.”

The innkeeper shook his head. “The Samaritan paid for your care. He promised to pay for any extra cost too.” He smiled. “Only one good thing about Samaritans. Their money is like everyone else’s.”

Rudely Awakened

Jesus’ story ends with the Samaritan making his promise to pay for the injured man’s care. (Luke 10:35) He then asks a question the listener is supposed to consider. I heard a good sermon on this story the other evening. I began to wonder what would the rest of the story be. Would the victim of the bandits be grateful? Would the innkeeper tell him what happened? Does anyone’s opinions about Samaritans change?

My guess is that most people would recognize that there were a few good Samaritans but the majority were as bad as they heard they were. The next day I sat in Annual Conference and heard a woman discuss the lesbian person who grew up in her congregation who still attended with her same-sex spouse. These women are loved by the congregation, she claimed. And they in turn love the congregation. But she said if our denomination decided for full-inclusion for LGBTQ+ people, she would leave. Included in her threat was a condemnation of a man and his same-sex spouse whom she did not know personally “flaunting” themselves.

It is a curious phenomenon among our churches. There are those who resoundingly condemn homosexuality while excepting gay people they know. It is as though a slogan is placed in the church saying, “our gays are okay while all the others are abominations before God.” It is bizarre.

The Others

The same thing could be said for our attitudes toward any other kind of people. We tend to know and like a person of another race, religion, or sexual identity when we know them. It never occurs us to ask why would anyone hate this person who did not know them. I really find this a curious place to be. When Dr. King said he wanted a day to come when his children would be judged not on the color of their skin but the content of their character, many white people forgot we have a tendency to judge people’s character based on the color of their skin. But there is another reality to which we must be awakened.

Awakened While Trying to Sleep

I know the theories about why the priest and the Levite went to the other side of the road to avoid the injured man. It may have had something to do with ritual impurity from touching dead bodies. The man, as many movies show, could have been bait for used by the bandits. My guess is they saw a Samaritan on the road. No I cannot prove this. But all of the possible reasons given for the response of the priest and the Levite involve risk they are not willing to take.

Why are Christians afraid to take risks? Every church avoids risking rejection from the larger community. I recently read that churches do not attract people Jesus attracted because we are not preaching the same message. I do not think so. Churches want to be in the good graces of the larger community or at least the people we wish to attract. This is the problem we all face. Rejection is not easy to face. It would be interesting to know if the wounded man swore at the Samaritan.

Toxic Clergy

It may feel like I am changing subjects. Clergy who act in toxic ways are detrimental to the health of the church. The priest and the Levite may have been late for a meeting with their accountability group. Clergy may fear rejection or bask in adoration and be toxic to everyone around them. We know we are being judged on the metrics. And we may do something to make them look better. If the religious leaders who saw the injured man avoided him for any pious or racial reason, they caused harm to continue. The priest and Levite are considered holy by their birth. The Samaritan is unclean by his birth. It is evil to think in these ways.

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