Dear Christ Church,
We all hear so many competing demands, a cacophony of directives for our lives. Maybe it was a desire for simplicity, a desire to distill the good life of walking in God’s ways, that prompted an expert in the law to ask Jesus “which command in God’s law is the most important?” Jesus’ reply was to the point: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love your neighbor as yourself. This second command is not only number two on a list, neighbor-love is also the foremost way that we obey the first commandment to love God with surrender of our total selves. Commandment number one answers “what?”; commandment number two answers “how?”
So we have the “what?” and “how,” but now we ask “who?.” Who is our neighbor? Another expert in the law asked Jesus that question. Jesus gave a brilliant and unexpected answer (reread the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10) which shows that the definition extends all the way to people who are culturally and geographically distant from us, people unlike us. In other words, everyone!
Here’s the simple conclusion: at the top of the list for living a good and beautiful life is to love God by demonstrating sacrificial love to others, those near and far from us, like us and different from us.
As individuals, we have neighbors in our lives that God means for us to love this way. As a parish community, we have a collective neighborhood in the downtown Eastside where we are called to be the loving presence of Jesus. This Sunday I will be preaching on the call to our parish neighborhood; and Sunday evening, 7pm at Medina St., we will hear an outstanding report by summer intern Alex Murphy, on our parish neighborhood. The name of our gathering and the report itself is “Meeting Medina.”
I would love for every single household of Christ Church to be represented at our gathering this Sunday evening. You might like to come early for the 5pm service while you’re at it.
Your partner in neighbor-love,