The Parable of the Good Samaritan
For teens ages 13-17
Goal: To teach about Jesus’ concern for our health and how he showed his love through acts of healing; To show them how we can express our love for others through our concern for their health; To help them see "others" and "ourselves" as individuals, but also as participants in community; To demonstrate that our concerns should be the basis for taking responsible action.
Supplies needed: Members of your youth group will test their knowledge of the health care issue and enact the story of the "Good Samaritan"
- narrator (TV reporter)- "microphone" and head-set
All Teachers: As a group, identify some of the specific "health needs" of children/youth in your community – needs that are not being met. Consider immunization problems, children/youth who are not receiving care because their parents have no insurance, mothers who receive inadequate pre-natal care (teen mothers), etc. You may wish to speak with your community hospital, pediatricians, homeless shelters, schools, community health department to learn more about the problems in your area. What "ministries" are churches in your community supporting to meet these needs? What legislation/policy changes have been proposed in your city/state? Is there a specific action/project your classes could support with time or money?
Part I (Opening) 5 minutes
Tell the class what is happening at their church. The whole church is celebrating Health Care Sabbath – a time for prayer, study and action. Why is our health care system a critical concern for the church?
Health care involves issues of justice, equity, community, responsibility and quality of life, -- issues that are really ethical in nature. It is particularly important that the religious community struggle with and speak to such issues.
Reform proposals are being introduced in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress that will affect the way medical care is delivered and paid for in this country. The decisions that are made will impact many, particularly children. There are various forces attempting to control the outcome of these political debates. Most bring a narrow, vested (selfish) interest to the process. It is the religious community, however, speaking from a faith perspective, speaking to the ethical issues, that must raise the arguments for compassion and social justice.
Part II (a Prayer – to be read in unison, or by the leader)
O God, source of all health:
Part III (Lesson from the Bible) 10 minutes
Today’s study will center on the Parable of the Good Samaritan from the Gospel according to Luke. (Distribute copies of the biblical text to the class)
Talk to your class briefly about "Luke".
You may wish to share some information from a Bible commentary.
Although some may argue that the evidence is inconclusive, tradition suggests that Luke was a physician, a gentile and a companion of Paul. Because he was writing for gentiles, people unfamiliar with many of the Jewish traditions – people like us, Luke is the easiest of the gospels to read. Luke seems particularly interested in Jesus’s concern for the oppressed, the poor and the sick. Many of the stories that appear in Luke are also told in the other Gospels, but this story is not.
Read Luke 10:25-29 or tell the story of the "lawyer’s" question. Your emphasis should be on the statement "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." and on the question "WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?" (NRSV). Discuss the meaning of "neighbor". It is easiest to "love the people we already know and like. But, does Jesus want us to love people we don’t know, people who are different, people who need something … how does he mean for us to show this "love"? The answers to these questions are in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. To help us understand the story, we will enact it, placing the events in a more familiar context -- one of today.
Ask for volunteers from your class to play the various roles in the story. Give each a copy of their character’s profile and the parable. Be sure you include both male and female characters -- this is a modern play! There is no script, the narrator will lead the action, imitating the story told in the scripture and interviewing the characters to illicit their response.
You will need to allow time for the "players" to don their costumes and rehearse their action. While they prepare, you should lead the class through the next section: "Check your knowledge".
Part IV (Questions about health care in the U.S. – "Check your knowledge") 10 minutes
Challenge the class to test their knowledge (and prejudices) concerning the current health care system using the questionnaire. The questions should be presented for discussion and response. The purpose of this "test" is simply to focus attention on the facts about health care. Choose those questions that will be of the greatest interest to your age-level group. You may wish to work in small groups, tackling a few questions in each. If so, consider rewriting the questions on index cards with a question on one side and the answer on the reverse.
Part V (The Play) 10 minutes
Jesus answers the lawyer’s question with a story. Ask your students to enact the parable.
When the story was finished, Jesus asked "WHICH OF THESE THREE, DO YOU THINK, WAS A NEIGHBOR TO THE MAN WHO FELL INTO THE HANDS OF THE ROBBERS?" Using the "voting" method, ask the class to answer the question. Prompt the "pastor", "church worker" and the "stranger" (still in character) to step forward as the class votes on the question.
Part VI (Responding to the story) 15 minutes
Tell them how the lawyer answered and how Jesus responded: "HE SAID, ‘THE ONE WHO SHOWED HIM MERCY.’ JESUS SAID TO HIM, ‘GO AND DO LIKEWISE.’"
The answer to the question seems fairly obvious to us. But, the command to "go and do likewise" is neither simply nor easy. To understand ourselves and some of the excuses we give for ignoring the needs of others, let’s investigate the responses of the characters in our play. (Use the "voting" method to elicit class response.)
Consider the "traveler"
He knew the section of town he was traveling through was very dangerous, but he took no precautions. He brought the attack on himself, by his irresponsible attitude. He was probably a little embarrassed that he had become so vulnerable.
Questions: Must we help someone who has brought his trouble on himself? VOTE
Jesus instructs us to help, even when the trouble is brought on by the individual’s own actions or inaction.
Consider the "minister"
S/he was too concerned with duties to the congregation to stop and help the injured traveler. It wasn’t her/his responsibility. S/he would not compromise those tasks entrusted by the church. S/he felt sorry for the traveler, but also felt it wasn’t her/his job to help. The church’s ceremonial tasks were more important than showing charity to a stranger.
Questions: Do you think a minister’s main function is to perform the sacramental and liturgical services with a church? VOTE
Consider the "church person"
Questions: Do you sometimes avoid acting because you fear you might fail? VOTE
Jesus teaches us that the help we give must be practical, and does not consist of merely feeling sorry.
Consider the "stranger"
Questions: Do you think the stranger’s "feelings": toward the traveler were more significant than the feelings of the pastor? church person? VOTE
The lawyer describes the one who helped as a "neighbor". What does it mean to be a "good neighbor"? to whom are we called to be a neighbor?
Jesus tells us that anyone in need is our "neighbor."
Finally, Jesus tells us to "do likewise". Are there "injured neighbors" that we have ignored? What can we do to help? Ask your class for their suggestions. Is there a "ministry" you can support? What action can your class take to help assure that everyone in this country has access to the health care they need?
The Scene: An abandoned, dimly lit street in BigCity, USA. A dangerous place at this time of night, this area is known to be frequented by muggers and thieves.
Narrator: "microphone" and head-set
The narrator has the responsibility of making sure the story is told. By interviewing the various characters as they appear on the scene, s/he helps the audience understand what the various personalities are thinking and where they are going. This character is a TV reporter, not a commentator. Try to stick to the facts. Use questions to pull the story out of the characters, but let the audience draw the conclusions.
Be sure you read the descriptions of the other characters before the performance begins. You questions should help to reveal this information. For example: Describe the part of town you are in. then ask the traveler what s/he is doing there. What’s in the bag? -- looks like it might be valuable?
Traveler: a shopping bag, backpack
The traveler in Luke’s story is just an average person, someone with whom we can identify. Her/his actions, however, are reckless and foolhardy. Traveling the road from Jerusalem to Jericho alone would be as dangerous as walking a dimly lit street in some abandoned are of BigCity, USA.
You know this section of town is very dangerous, but you’ve taken no precautions. Your attitude is reckless, irresponsible. You are on your way to a friend’s house for a party; perhaps a gift is in your bag. It’s late; you should have left earlier. In fact, you intended to, but you got involved with "something" and suddenly it was dark. You know the way – "almost". You are very independent, not the type that would ask for directions. After you are mugged, you become less trusting of strangers, but you’re desperate for the assistance of anyone who will help. You’re thankful, finally, for your rescue.
Priest (Reverend L.O.Quint): clerical robe, cleric’s collar
Priests served in the temples, performing rituals and conducting sacrificial services. Members of a prestigious class, they were expected to maintain a "holiness" in the temple and personally. Because Priests could officiate only when ritually pure, they would not risk contact with the dead.
You are a very important minister, well known for your eloquent preaching skills. You are frequently invited to preach or lead a prayer at special gatherings. Your picture has appeared in the newspaper several times. This evening, you are on your way to your church where you will be preaching for a special service. You and the other members of your staff have been preparing for this service for the past month. It is the first service of the Lenten season, Holy Communion is planned. Your staff gave you a "heads up" that the mayor, a local business tycoon – big contributor, and your Bishop are expected to be in attendance. Your focus is on your sermon for this evening; not on the circumstances and pain of the "traveler". No doubt, you will mention the "plight of our streets" in your sermon tonight, asking your congregation to show compassion for those injured.
Robber: face concealed, a club or "gun"
The road between Jerusalem and Jericho was notoriously dangerous. Travelers anticipated an encounter with a band of robbers and prepared for it by traveling in caravans.
You are important to the action of the story, but not a part of the lesson. Your goal is to create the injury to which others must respond. You are a modern day mugger. You beat your victim – first, when s/he resists giving you the "goods" and second, to deter her/him from pursuing you.
Levite (a church worker – Brother/Sister DoGooder): wearing a big cross
Levites were members of the Temple staff. Although their function was to sacrifice and administer the law, they were not held in as high esteem as the priest.
You chair an important committee in your church -- perhaps the trustees. You are on your way to the worship service where Rev. L.O. Quint will preach. You are active in the life of your church and consider yourself to be a "good" person. Encountering the injured traveler raises contradictory feelings for you; you wish to help, but you feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable –what can YOU do? It’s late, you need to get on to the service. You rationalize: "There are people who are supposed to take care of these things". You avoid responding to the needs of this individual and center on the broader issue of "unsafe streets". How terrible it is that the streets are so dangerous. This horrible mugging has been perpetrated just down the road from your church. It could have happened to a church member. Perhaps, your church building is vulnerable. You must bring this to the attention of you committee at the next meeting. Where are the people who are supposed to be protecting our streets? Who is committing these crimes? A study of these must be done!
Samaritan (a stranger): old torn clothes, shopping cart
For centuries there was a mutual hatred and distrust between Jews and Samaritans. Samaritans were regarded as foreigners. The name was also used to describe a man who was a heretic, someone who had broken ceremonial law. The term "good Samaritan" would have been thought a contradiction in terms. A Jewish traveler would have found it at least awkward to have been aided (and indebted to) a Samaritan.
You are homeless person with schizophrenia. You are well-educated and communicate effectively. Sometimes you are disoriented with respect to your environment, but not always. Few of the people you encounter understand you or your illness. Some are embarrassed or frightened of you. You are not dangerous or less human; you are simply different, struggling with a brain disease. Because of the stigma of being homeless/mentally ill, your audience will respond to you as a possible threat to the "traveler" until they see you intend to help.
You are familiar with big city and the danger. You understand the vulnerability of the traveler and feel compassion. There is a medical clinic in the area – most people know about it. The "voices" you hear, the ones that sometimes invade your world, have on more than one occasion driven you to that place for shelter. You know the people there to be understanding and compassionate. This evening, you are on your way to a worship service at a nearby church. You understand that a very important preacher will be there tonight. You hope that this person can help you find "God" -- can help you restore a relationship you fear you might have lost.
Innkeeper (clinic doctor): white coat, stethoscope
After the Samaritan treats the traveler’s wounds, he is placed in the care of the innkeeper who is compensated for his actions.
There is a trusting relationship between the doctor and the stranger. It is because of this relationship, not just the nature of the traveler’s injury, that you are motivated to accept this person as a patient and care for him/her. You are aware that this case could have been referred to the community hospital, surmising that this young person lacks the insurance or finances to pay for your medical services. You make a decision that the services you render to the traveler have been "paid for" by the friendship shared between you and the stranger. You assure the stranger that the traveler’s injuries are being treated and encourage your "friend" to continue with his/her plans for the evening.