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Luke 10: 29-35
29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense…’

WWhen you first read this passage, you may think you understand what Jesus was saying to the us and His audience, but I submit to you that we are not capable of understanding how radical a story Jesus was telling. In our modern-day world, we can't imagine how despised the Samaritans were by the Jewish people and how much Samaritans hated the Jewish people because of it. In this passage, a dying, Jewish man was abandoned to his fate by leaders of his Jewish community, while a Samaritan stopped and cared for him, knowing that if he had been healthy, he would have treated him as if he didn’t exist. In Memphis today, the racial divide is largely felt by economic disparity, not overt racism that existed in Memphis when I was born in 1960. Jesus used the story of the overt racism that exists between the Jewish people and the Samaritans to challenge us today to rethink our preconceived prejudices and expectation of others.

In this issue, one of the events is the celebration of my 60th birthday party. My 60th birthday was actually last July, but Covid kept us all from celebrating, so I threw a party as our world reopened. The party benefited Operation Red Shoes, a charity that helps families battling cancer with unusual financial needs. I had two goals, one to celebrate that things were starting to return to normal and secondly to have the birthday presents my friends gave me that were going to Operation Red Shoes be greater than what I was spending on the party. I am sure that I am biased, but it was the best party ever thrown in Memphis (our being locked up for 16 months had nothing to do with creating this feeling), and Operation Red Shoes received more money than I spent on the party.

The highlight of the party and the greatest gift I got that night was something that could never be planned or asked for. At the end of the party, I paid Cyrena Wages, thanking her and her band for being part of the party. It was only after she had left that I heard that the envelope with the money that I paid her had fallen out of her pocket and she had stuck around trying to find it.

I have the privilege of working with Michael Mosley and his family whenever we throw a party at our house. Michael has a company that provides serving staff for local venues and parties, and his wife Shirley works in administration at one of our city’s hospitals. My wife and Shirley have the same heart when it comes to Operation Red Shoes, and Shirley always helps Michael when he works for our Operation Red Shoes events. While cleaning up, Michael’s 22-year-old son Christian handed me an envelope full of money that he found. What do you say, when a Samaritan stops to aid a Jewish man, what do you say when a young man who hasn’t had steady work for 16 months stops and turns in an envelope of money?

How do you change attitudes in the city that you live in? You live as the Samaritan and Christian did towards their neighbor, considering their needs above your own regardless of who they are, what they have or how they may have treated you.

Seek the peace and prosperity of Memphis.
Jim Walker

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