From The Vicar: All Neighbors

© photo by Jenny Jimenez
Published on Wed, 31 Jul 2019 16:12
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Dear Ones of St. Columba's,

We are blessed at St. C's with a wonderful prayer writers ministry. This is a group of people who take turns writing our Prayers of the People for a day, or a season. The Prayers of the People are one part of our liturgy where our prayer book encourages a community to be creative, to write its own words rather than using the prayer forms provided in the book. In my experience many communities don't take the prayer book up on it's offer to be creative. I'm so glad that we do.

For this first part of Season After Pentecost, we have been using prayers that use the following refrain:

Lord of all Neighbors, Teach us to Serve.

I have so appreciated this prayer, over the past few weeks. It has been a touchstone to remind me that despite divisive rhetoric in our country as political campaigns heat up, despite the horror of what is going on at our borders, despite the continuing incidents of gun violence, and despite the shame of leaders who are willing to use blatantly racist language in public, we have a purpose and a calling as Christian people. We are neighbors. Our job is to be neighbors. Our job is to serve those God places next to us, no matter who they are.

A few weeks ago we heard a parable that is often called The Good Samaritan. I didn't preach on it, I felt called to talk about Amos that Sunday. Yet, it is a story we all know - two religious leaders pass by a man who has been beaten and is lying half dead on the side of the road. Then someone stops - a Samaritan, a person who this man might not want to touch him, a person who should not by any social conventions or norms of the day be in relationship with the man on the side of the road. This is a parable Jesus tells in answer to a question - "Who is my neighbor?" At the end of the parable Jesus flips the question and instead asks "Who was this man's neighbor?"

Our world is interested in pitting us against other people. There are many powers that benefit from our fear of the stranger, from our reluctance to care for people whose culture, gender identity, sexual orientation, or economic status is confusing or threatening, or strange to us. These are powers interested in making money, in selling media, in getting elected, in maintaining privilege. None of these powers are from God. 

Every week we pray together to the God who created us to be neighbors, to help anyone in need of help, to serve each other instead of protecting ourselves from each other. This is a prayer we all need right now. This is a goal that we can only accomplish through relationship with God, and through awareness that our power is from the one who was himself beaten and abandoned, who became untouchable, for the sake of love. We can afford to love each other. We can afford to help, and hope, and choose courage over fear. 

We worship the God who became our neighbor in Jesus Christ, and together we can learn how to love, and serve, all the neighbors in our world.

I am so glad to be in a community that is actively engaged in this work. Thank you, and together let's keep learning to serve.

with care and gratitude,

Alissa

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