Triennium Wednesday worship explores parable of the Good Samaritan

Brockman challenges attendees to ‘GO and do likewise’

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service
Anna Sweet Brockman preaches on the theme of 'Go and do likewise' from the parable of the Good Samaritan at Wednesday's Presbyterian Youth Triennium worship service. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

Anna Sweet Brockman preaches on the theme of ‘Go and do likewise’ from the parable of the Good Samaritan at Wednesday’s Presbyterian Youth Triennium worship service. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Another upbeat worship service brought together more than 4,700 attendees at the Presbyterian Youth Triennium being held this week on the campus of Purdue University. Sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the event’s 2016 theme is “GO!”

Pulsing music and lights greeted students as they rushed to fill the Elliot Hall of Music prior to a set of energizers led by Triennium volunteers at the beginning of worship. Following the prayer of confession, the Rev. Nathan Wheeler brought greetings from the leadership of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, expressing how he was impressed by the unity of those gathered for Triennium.

Following the reading of Luke 10:25-37—the parable of the Good Samaritan—four extended prayers from young people were read as images flowed across the screen and a liturgical play was performed: “I pray, especially when I don’t know what else to do; I pray that I will begin to see the power of understanding God as I love my neighbor as myself; I pray for this country; I pray for you.”

A presentation by the Rev. Lisa Cook of Sacred Sparks Ministry, an Outreach of Nashville Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, told of her work with people experiencing homelessness and the needs her ministry meets such as material resources, meals and laundry services.

“I urge you, when you talk about the people I work with, do not call them homeless people, they’re all just people who are experiencing homelessness,” she said. “Will you help me with this? I have been blessed beyond measure by the people I serve.”

“I am not what the world tells you is a typical preacher and my church is not what the world tells you is a typical congregation,” Cook concluded, speaking of how important specialized ministries are to the church. “But know this, I am their pastor and that is my church.”

Presbyterian Youth Triennium attendees hold their cell phones up during a opening song at Wednesday's worship service. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

Presbyterian Youth Triennium attendees hold their cell phones up during a opening song at Wednesday’s worship service. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

Speaking to the gospel text and the theme “GO and do likewise,” Anna Sweet Brockman, also of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, said everything in the Good Samaritan story “would have been an unusually short exchange had the lawyer not interjected, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”

“Parables are told so that we learn to do better than we’ve done before,” she asserted, speaking to the power of Jesus’ exchange in the text. “There not so much about being right or wrong, they’re more about responding to what we’ve learned so that we can be good.”

“How about today we take a step back and we look at the story as a whole?” she asked. “If we are quick to place ourselves in the Samaritan’s shoes we will miss some vital learning—we tend to get the story wrong because we are so quick to take the side of the Samaritan.”

Speaking of the “great divide” that existed between Jews and Samaritans, Brockman continued by wondering who has been labeled the greatest enemy of religious people today, who is considered “the other”: women, people of color, those not from our country, the poor and those experiencing homelessness, or those in the LGBTQ community.

“We have bought the lie that because we belong to groups that are powerful that God is necessarily on our side, but the gospel says no,” she said at the end of a litany of those Brockman believes have been excluded by some religious groups. “The gospel stands firm saying ‘yes’ to the value of the oppressed. The gospel stands firm saying ‘no’ to the act of oppression.”

“You are a people who are called to say ‘yes’ to those the church has often said ‘no,’ to say no to oppression and to follow where Christ would lead you,” she concluded. “Help the church reclaim the gospel story. Help the church reclaim the story of what it means to be a good neighbor.”

Introduced by Mienda Uriarte, coordinator for PC(USA) mission in Asia and the Pacific, the Triennium special offering was taken in support of a project to turn discarded shipping containers into storm-resistant classrooms, churches and public spaces in the Philippines.

Presbyterian Youth Triennium continues through Saturday, July 23. Presbyterian News Service will continue to post stories from the event and live event information can be found on Twitter via this link: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23pyt2016


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