Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Who is my neighbor?

From our Gospel lesson on Sunday Luke 10:25-27 to the daily news reports, it seems that neighbor and neighborhood have come to the surface of our everyday language this week. 

Every time I hear the word neighbor or neighborhood, I find myself humming a familiar tune from Sesame Street. 
If you want to sing along, you can do so with Ben Stiller and Tully here.
Okay that one gets a little silly....but "a neighbor is a person that we meet when we're walking down the street, it's a person that we meet each day."
I went out for a run this morning (in the midst of a heatwave I admit, but have been steadily re-hydrating all day) and saw more runners and walkers than I have in the past. 

As we nodded and said hello mid stride.  They are the people in my neighborhood.  . 
As I passed two men spraying for weeds, they cheered me on saying I only had 20 miles to go!  They are the people in my neighborhood. 
As a car drove by, the driver gave me a nod and a wave.  We saw each other.  We connected for a moment.  That driver is a person in my neighborhood. 

Through all of these interactions, we built community.  We began or continued relationships.  We shared space, we looked at one another, made eye contact and took a moment to connect. 

I probably don't have to tell you that the reactions to the Trayvon Martin case are flooding Facebook, Twitter, our conversations at the gym, our places of work and no doubt our hearts and our minds.  The challenge, I think, in the midst of it all, is to remain the church.  How do we continue to live our lives as our nation reacts in very different ways to the result of a court case?  How do we continue to live and love our neighbors when differences of opinion or race or gender or creed divide us? 

I know there are no easy answers to these questions, but I think it's good that we ask them, that we struggle with them and that we remember to listen to one another in the midst of it all.  I think we're called to pray the Psalms of lament as a mother mourns the loss of her son.  I think we're called to pray for those with different opinions than ours.  I think we're called to be in the midst of life as it happens and pray for and wrap our minds around the violence that happened in this situation and the countless acts of violence that occur everyday in our nation and our world.   We need to be the kingdom of God here and now.  We need to continue to build relationships, to love and serve one another and continue to live as the light of Christ shines out from each and every one of us. 

I don't want us to get bogged down in the arguments and protests that are happening, but I want us to be aware of them.  I don't want us to gloss over this and just 'be good' to one another and pretend it didn't happen.  I pray that God's people continue to be a beacon of light, a voice of love and justice and grace in a world that continually aches for healing and wholeness. 

Over the course of the weekend, two other stories came to light.  One was of  two teenage boys who chased down a car on their bikes and saved a 5 year old girl from an abductor.  Right in Lancaster County. 

And then in Hershey, a motorist and friend stopped to help a stranded biker on the side of the road.  To their surprise...it was Dave Matthews. 

In both cases, these individuals saw someone in need and responded. 

In light of hearing the parable of the Good Samaritan last Sunday, one that so many of us could pretty much recite from memory....and wondering why we hear texts over and over again....we hear these stories.  And we need to hear this parable and others over and over and because God's word comes to us when we hear them...when we claim them and when we retell them. 
Why do we need to hear this story over and over? 
Because there are still robbers and thieves in our world....and we are called to respond. 
Because we will find ourselves in different parts of it each time we hear it. 
Because this is a story about God's grace and love coming to the broken, the hurt, the sinner, the saint, you and me in the midst of our darkest, weakest, scariest moments just because God loves us. 

How are you retelling the story of the Good Samaritan?  How and where are you seeing examples of neighbors in your life?  When have you felt God's grace and when have you extended it to others? 

Continue to let that light shine, folks. 

Until the next post....

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.  (John 1:5)