Monday, July 12, 2010

Parishioner Carjacked and Beaten on Way to Church

     It has not yet made the national news, but we had a parishioner from our church carjacked coming down the Mt. Rose highway on her way to church last Sunday and brutally beaten. She was left unconscious and bleeding. We found out about it first because one of our priests drove past and saw the scene, and reported it when he arrived for the 7:45 AM service. A bit later, one of our vestry members was driving down the same road and saw it too. Luckily, after she had passed by, a member of the Hell's Angels motorcycle club was passing and saw her beaten and bleeding. He stopped and made a tourniquet from the greasy bandana he was wearing. Doctors later said that probably saved her life, stopping the blood loss. He got to St. Mary’s hospital in Reno and shockingly even paid two months of the bills in advance. The Hell’s Angels are holding a chopper rally next Friday in downtown Reno to raise funds to pay the rest of her hospital bills.

     OK, by now you've realized it's just a story, but maybe you feel a bit of the shock Jesus' audience felt when he talked about the good Samaritan (Although I’ve always wondered if the title of the story wouldn’t be better as “The Bad Priest”.)

     My adaptation is really not so far off. The highway down from Lake Tahoe to Reno is very similar to the one from Jerusalem down to Jericho. It is 36 miles from Incline Village at the Lake to Reno, and only 18 miles from Jerusalem down to Jericho, but it is about the same drop in elevation. So, we could easily say, it's half as far, but twice as steep. And as far as the Hell’s Angels goes… who would you least expect to come to your aid if you were the one lying in a ditch on the side of the road?

     We could be any of the people in this story. Every last one of us has been that person in the ditch. We are the victim on the road, robbed of our innocence. Some pass by us like the priest or the Levite. Even worse, some come along and give us one last kick to be sure we’re really bleeding by telling us things like, “You deserved it,” or, “It was your own stupid fault,” or, “You should help yourself,” or the worst lie of all, “You are not worthy of being loved or helped.”

     Sometimes, to my shame, I realize I have been the robber, beating and inflicting wounds on others… even those whom I love. Sometimes, at the best of times we are the Samaritan. We become the good Samaritan when we realize we don't come across those who are hurting and in need by chance. It is a divine appointment we are keeping.

     If we continue working on radical love – Jesus' kind, that saw no boundaries, no limits between people, then, there comes a time when we understand there are no Samaritans – or Jews, or priests, or conservatives, or liberals, or Whites, or Hispanics, or Blacks, or gays, or straights. There are only four kinds of people in the world:
  • Those who attack and rob others
  • Those who lie beaten and bleeding,
  • Those who pass by, and…
  • Those who hearts are touched with compassion.
     We are all bleeding to death, dying of the need of both treating and being treated the way people who are fully human – who see no boundaries to love – treat one another. Christianity is not so much about the individual "getting to heaven” – Jesus has promised we’re going to get there. In a very real sense, Christianity is mostly about how many of our fellow travelers we touch along the way.


  1. You certainly got my attention. thanks for the insights. Every blessing

  2.      I'm glad it touched you, Freda! It's hard to preach on such a well-known passage.


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