What’s at the heart of Christianity? Well, Jesus, of course, and love–living out a life of love. The Apostle Paul writes about love this way: Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others (I Corinthians 13:3-6, The Message). I don’t know about you, but that’s a great description and a tall order. Jesus wants us to be known by our love. There are many ways that can play out. Sometimes love is nurturing. Sometimes it is correcting, always, always love asks something of us. Sometimes love is sacrificial and we’re asked to give much of ourselves. Sometimes it’s about patience with another person or offering a second chance. Sometimes love is about being available to someone when we also know we have a hundred other things to do.
We’re talking about how we love our neighbors this month and how we follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves. This worship series begs the question, “How well do you know your neighbors where you live?” Often we know a first name, enough to wave hi as we’re dashing in or out the door. Often when the church talks about these words “to love our neighbors as ourselves,” we think of the larger mission work we do that reaches into the community or around the world. But what if Jesus literally meant, loving your neighbor who actually lives right next door to you? So Jesus gives us an interesting challenge. How can we love our neighbors as ourselves if we don’t even know much about them? I know we often live feeling isolated. People in neighborhoods don’t know each other well. Or we live in some fear of our neighbors. Maybe we don’t trust them. Maybe they are scary (that guy with the loud motorcycle or the constantly unkempt yard.)
I want to invite us this month to think about these big issues of loving our neighbors and what it could do to the corner of the world in which you find yourself if you followed Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself. How could you be a sign of God’s love in someone else’s life? Join me Sunday and help us all to think about how we might do this neighboring work on God’s behalf.
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“We invite you to join us on a shared journey of life and faith, open to all, regardless of age, ability, economics, color, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, politics, theology or anything else that might separate us from each other. Whoever you are and wherever you may be on your spiritual journey, you’re invited to walk with Christ in community with all of God’s children, and embrace the endless possibilities of God’s unconditional love.”