The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say, ‘What are you going through?’
Friends in Christ,
The word neighbor shows up just seventeen times in the New Testament, ten in the Gospels themselves, but eight of them have to do with loving your neighbor.
Not many citations, really. Sin and prayer show up more.
However, Jesus did say that loving God and loving our neighbor (as we love ourselves) is the greatest message of the faith. Then, of course, at one point disciples asked him, “Who is my neighbor?”
The response to that question has gotten larger and larger, more and more inclusive, as the centuries go by. Some say all people are our neighbors, and some say all living things. Some say that living things includes more than just animals. Our God is awesome and eternal, so our faith might express love without limit. Why not love all people and all creation? God does.
During November we hope welcome an Afghan family, along with Temple Shalom of Newton. During November we hope to feed about 12 families at Thanksgiving. Sign up here. On the first Sunday of the month we’ll remember nineteen saints departed since last All Saints Day: neighbors. The second Sunday of the month we’ll welcome back a former colleague, the Reverend Alex Shea Will, now our area Conference Minister. He’ll bring inspiration about new neighbors for our new era. And of course on November 21 we’ll ponder what Thanksgiving says about neighbors. Then Advent begins on the last Sunday of November.
When we link Jesus’ answer to the question, who is my neighbor, with Weil’s—what are you going through—we have the ingredients for a faithful church. Following the lead of the people of God our neighbors are everywhere. Following the mystic Weil’s call, we reach out to each other. We care about each other, inspired by God.
When you cook a turkey or donate for the Afghan family, pause for a moment to notice how you are participating in “the greatest commandment.” How you are joining Jesus to answer a question. How you are loving yourself. And how you are loving God.
We all have plenty of tasks and donations and commitments. We all need a moment to notice holy work, ancient work, eternal work, too.
Thank you for being my neighbor.