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When You're Down and Out!


Passage: Colossians 1:1-14, Luke 10:25-37

Speaker: Rev. Dr. Stephen Graham

In the Cotton Patch Version of Luke, Clarence Jordan tells Luke 10:33 in this way! “Then a black man traveling that way came upon the fellow, and what he saw moved him to tears (all the while his thoughts may have been along this line: “Somebody’s robbed you, yeah I know about that, I’ve been robbed, too. And they have beat you up bad, I know, I’ve been beat up, too. And everybody just goes right on by and leaves you laying here hurting. Yeah, I know. They passed me by, too!)”

We know this story as the story of the Good Samaritan, but it is also the story of that man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. It’s the story of that one, who while on the way, was attacked by robbers. It is the story of the wounded one left without clothes, beaten up, half-dead!

Our Hebrew professor in the seminary reminded us daily that we should never forget the wounded, struggling, discouraged person when we preach. Always, he said, offer a word of encouragement for the one who knows what it is to wonder if he or she can make it. He would then pray for the day giving thanks for it, and never forgetting to pray for the one who was down and out.

We live in a fast-paced and fragmented world where people suffer crises and tragedies. Perhaps there is one here—even now—who knows what it is to face an enormous challenge, one who may have no one to turn to, one who may be facing a hardship alone… if you are here feeling wounded and sore, we hope and desire that this can be a word of hope for you.

A word of hope if you are:

  • Overwhelmed
  • Abandonment
  • Struggling
  • Living with more on your plate than any two persons could handle…
  • Pressured
  • Weary of well-doing and caregiving
  • Without
  • Challenged

Anne Lamott writes of a falling out with her childhood friends, Mady and Donna. She remembered playing with other girls after that and even spending the night at their houses, “But more often than not,” she wrote “I wound up alone, abandoned.” All New People, p. 106.

If there is a word of hope for the one who is discouraged, then we will be hopeful because we all--know loss, hurt, grieve, woundedness. Each and every one of us, could share our experience of being left alone, down and wondering if we are out. We are, each one of us, familiar with what it is to know woundedness, though we work so hard so that no one can tell. 

“Nobody knows you when you’re down and out. In you pocket, not one penny. And your friends, you don’t haven’t any, but if you ever get on your feet again—then you’ll find your long lost friends. It’s mighty strange, without a doubt. Nobody knows you when you’re down and out. I mean when you’re down and out.”

Jimmy Cox

It is a word of hope that we want to share for the one who would risk being transparent with her discouragement, with his disappointment. Over the last several months I have been encouraged by the care you extend to others as the beloved community of Royal Lane. Priests to each other. Part of your commitment is to offer a word of hope.

Paul offers just such a gift in Colossians. The tone is hopeful and reassuring as he seeks to shore up the faith of a relatively young community of faith. Truth be known, we are all relatively young because we’re never passed this way before. We are all eternally rookies who are on our way—needing an encouraging word. There are a number of encouraging words in the first chapter alone. I don’t know about you, but I need them.

“There is grace and peace for you!” (Verse 2). You can be known and graced when you’re down and out. Grace: Charis, peace, Shalom, pillars of support. Grace coupled with truth. Truth cuts through to the chase. Let it be grace that teaches your heart to fear, because it is grace that will relieve your fears! Grace and peace from God our creator, sustainer, redeemer. The greeting is in effect a prayer that they may experience the grace and peace of God. “There is loving kindness for you” (verse 6??).

Eugene Peterson explores the importance of this teaching in Colossians. If you hear the full story of Jesus and learn the truth of his life and teaching, you cannot walk “away with a shrug of the shoulders.”

The gospel of God’s loving kindness has gone out to the world, and it promises to change the world just as it promises to change you!

“There is strength for you” (v. 11).

Jean Jannen’s hymn, based upon the writing of Mechthild of Magdebury affirms this strength found in God!

“I cannot dance, O love, unless you lead me on!
I cannot leap in gladness unless you lift me up!”

Paul tells the Colossians that when they feel powerless against forces of opposition there is the strength of endurance and patience.

“There is forgiveness for you!” (v. 13)

In Christ, you can make it, even when you fail—because there is forgiveness.

Remember in The Magician’s Nephew though written, next-to-last, Nouwen recommended that we read it first. Because this is the story of creation, how the land of Narnia came into being. It is the story of the beginning of temptation.

In this story, it turns out that Narnia is created when Aslan sings it into being! When Aslan lays back his great head and shakes his mane and opens his mouth—out flows creation!

You should be happy choir! Creation was a song first! Thank you for singing, a song of recreation today! A song affirming there is forgiveness in Jesus Christ our Lord!

Oklahoma Poet Laureate, Nathan Brown, wrote this poem about his father, Lavonne Brown.

On His Way

Dad’s retired and on his way
to pinch-hit in Tulsa
on an October Sunday morning.

He has a certain coffee stop
just before the turnpike,
a favorite form of meditation.

He pulls up to the window and
reaches for the football-shaped
rubber coin purse in his pocket

that I remember playing with
back when I was five, or so.
She leans out, “Mornin’.

You all dressed up,
On your way to church?”
“Well, actually, I’m on my way

to Tulsa to preach this morning.”
“Oh! So you a pastor.” “Yes.”
“Well,…would you pray

for me right now? I got some
negative people and thoughts
in my life I needa get rid of.”

Dad says sure, then she asks
for his hand. He reaches up.
He prays.   She squeezes.

I imagine myself into
the car in line just behind him
seeing the white hand extended

from the cuff of a white shirt
clasped by the two beautiful
black hands at the ends of a gray

uniform and wonder if the sight
alone would be enough to bow
my head in worship with them.

Let us sing ‘til forgiveness is born so that those left bruised, battered, broken or bored will know that they can make it.

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling!
And to present you without blemish before the presence of God’s glory.
With rejoicing, to the only God, our savior.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Be glory, majesty, and dominion.
And the authority, before all there now and forever. Amen.