"Love your neighbor as yourself" this is what the Gospel says (Matthew 22:38). My sisters and brothers, love is always an action word, which means we must physically do something about this call given to us. However who is our neighbor? Was it the Rawndans in power some twenty years ago who committed genocide as a nation, meanwhile voices who knew went silent. Were those who died not our neighbor too? Today as I am on sabbatical and knowing the thousands of refugee children needing assistance and some loud voices saying, No! These five words speak volumes to the text for me. "Who is my neighbor."
As Henri Nowen makes clear when one looks at Luke 10:29-37 "The neighor, Jesus makes clear, is not the poor man layng on the side of the street, srtipped, beaten, and half dead, but the Samaritan who crossed the road, 'bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them...lifted him unto his own mount and took him to an Inn and looked after him.' My neighbor is the one who crosses the road for me!"
This reflection was cemented as I worshiped at Second Baptist Church, of St. Louis, this Sunday. It is a beautiful santuary, extremely warm folks and I had a glorious time of prayer, praise and feeling the presence of the spirit in this place. They've made a conscious effort in so many ways to live out their faith and the one which met me at the door, lived itself out in worship and warmed my heart, was their Burmese members inclusion in their church. The may not have gone to Burma, however, when the Burmese arrived they certainly walked over to welcome them in. (Everyone worships together at 10:30, but the Burmese had a worship before and after the central service.)
I cannot place my awakening this day all in words to you, but sufice it to say, the spirit and mission of the church can and must cross the street. Saying yes will not be easy, yet loving has to be the focus of our listening and obeying. I hope as you continue on your journey and I on mine, we will seek the renewal God desires of us at Webster. I am unabashedly willing to cross the road!