This is the restaurant we see on Sunday mornings when we come out of the BM-speaking church we attend. I never noticed it before, but it’s intriguing – where did it get the name “Samaria”? But it may be the perfect sight when coming from one culture (Church) to another (mainstream Malaysia, which is significantly Muslim).
Long ago, Samaria was a country that shared a border with Israel during Jesus’ day. Samaritans worshipped the same God as the Jews but they didn’t center their worship at the Temple in Jerusalem, so Samaritans were not considered Jewish. Despite sharing so much in common, there was a drastic dislike between the two. You may remember the story of the Good Samaritan from Luke’s gospel – the point of the story, told to the people of Israel, is that a hated Samaritan could possibly be considered “good” – many people thought Jesus was just talking crazy to have told a parable like that.
Later, in the book of Acts, the disciples are sent out from Jerusalem, told that the good news is not just for Israelites but for all of God’s children. The disciples probably struggled with that. Scripture specifically says in Acts 1:8, “and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Local, foreign, and distant; but note how Scripture specifically includes Samaria.
What a modern-day parallel to greet on Sunday mornings. As we leave Church, we are reminded that there are many cultures, religions, and beloved children of God who we are called to love. They may look & sound very different from us; or they may be so similar that we assume that we understand each other. When we leave the worship of the God we know, we enter:
a.) a world that has its own beliefs, that may truly be open to hearing ours – as long as we are also willing to listen, grow, and change (without giving up our identity … ah, what a balancing act), or may not be open, but we don’t know until we gracefully speak
b.) a world that has its own needs, both from God and from us. (In this case, it was a business – needing customers … would I avoid their business because I don’t understand their culture? or can I meet them and meet some of their needs?)
c.) a world that has its own values, and we would do well to ponder what values are shown in our living before we critique the values that others demonstrate
d.) a world that has a beautiful, God-given diversity, which can enrich all, but not if we demand uniformity.
By chance I came across this picture today . It fits, doesn’t it?