From the Desk of Rev. Beth
Rev. Elizabeth Stotts, Pastor
In our Weekly Bible Study this week we had a talk about the difference between the 10 Commandments and Jesus’ Commandments. The 10 Commandments were given to Moses and were/are followed by those in the Jewish faith. You know them. They’re the one’s that say “Thou shall not…”. Jesus’ Commandments, even though there are only two, are much more difficult. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
So who is your neighbor? Do you know the people who live around you? Do you know the people who ride on the same train as you in your commute? Sometimes people feel guilty about Christ’s command to love our neighbor because some of us don’t even know our neighbors. Furthermore, sometimes we know our neighbors, but maybe it’s hard to love them. I was thinking that perhaps regardless of the situation surrounding our relationships with our neighbors, here are some things we can do to “love” them, just as Jesus would ask us to:
Pray specifically for your neighbors by name. Pray that they would know Christ by knowing you, and pray for the opportunity to develop relationships with them. Don’t know their names? Read #2...
Learn about your neighbors. You might have to have that embarrassing conversation when you say, “I’m so sorry. I should know your name since we’ve been neighbors for 20 years, but I don’t recall it. Could you tell me your name again?” Keep a list of your neighbors’ names, addresses, their dogs’ names, what you talk about, when you met, any tidbit of trivia you can follow up on later. Sometimes being a follower of Christ makes us uncomfortable.
A little gift is an instant ice breaker. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate— maybe some brownies or a plate of cookies, a children’s drawing (involving your children is a beautiful way to teach them to love their neighbor!), or even a handwritten note saying “Thinking of you”.
Intentionally serve outside your typical circles to meet more people. Volunteer at the food pantry, work with children at Horizons in Brockton, become trained to be a hospice visitor, groom animals at an animal rescue, share a meal at a soup kitchen, visit a nursing home, or pick up litter in your neighborhood park.
One in four of the homes on your street is occupied by one person living alone. Call one of your single neighbors using one of these conversation starters—
“I haven’t seen you for a while and wondered how you’re doing.”
“I really enjoy talking to you. What have you been up to?”
“I’m going to the store, what can I pick up for you?”
“Are you ready for the [upcoming storm, holiday, etc.]?”
Ask your elderly or shut-in neighbors specific questions during extremely cold weather:
“Is your heat working?”
“Are you warm enough?”
“Do you have enough food to get through the next few days?”
Do a neighbor a favor. Carry your neighbor’s trash cans back to her house, help carry in groceries, rake leaves, or shovel snow. Scrape the frost off the windshield or help with a home improvement project. Or simply listen...listen long and hear your neighbor’s heart.
I mean seriously, this is what we do best here at CSCC. Invite a neighbor to join your table at the Mission Dinner (March 21st) or for breakfast on a breakfast Sunday (1st & 3rd Sunday of every month, through May). Sharing a meal with someone is one of the most spiritually intimate acts we can do and Jesus models it for us so beautifully.
You don’t have to do all of these to “love your neighbor”, but challenge yourself to pick one and make it a point to actively engage in neighborly love. If you’re having a hard time loving your neighbor right now, give me a call or make an appointment to come talk to me. I’m always here for you.
Yours In Christ,