Seeing our neighbor

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“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all you mind and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

And the question always is….who is my neighbor? Jesus answered that question with the story of a man who was robbed and beaten and left for dead on the side of a road. A priest and a temple official passed by, and crossed the road to avoid to avoid contact with the possibly unclean body. Then another man, an outsider in the community, came along and saw him and helped him and cared for him. The outsider showed him mercy, even though they were not from the same town or tribe or class and it’s pretty certain they did not know each other.  Jesus said we are to “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)

In order to “go and do likewise,” we have to first see.  As we walk down the road, we have to see our neighbors, even, maybe especially, those we don’t know. Do you really see the people you walk past every day?  Do you see the people you ride in the elevator with at work, or pass on the bike trail, or who walk past you at the grocery store? Do you see the person who sits next to you in worship or at the end of the row? Do you make eye contact, or do you look away? Do you know their names, where they live, what their lives are like?

Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”  Most of won’t encounter a lot of gangrene and leprosy this week. But we may, if we open our eyes and really see, encounter hurt hearts, people who hunger for friendship, fellowship, conversation, acceptance of faults. If we are looking, we may realize people who need God’s love and care are all around us, and they are our neighbors, seeking grace and mercy just like we are.

This week, let’s pray together for the ability to see, and then love our neighbor as we love ourselves, and as Jesus loves us.

Lord God, open our eyes and help us see our neighbors
as you see them and love them as you love them.
Guide us with your Holy Spirit to see, and then act
in a way that shows your love
and mercy to everyone we meet.  Amen.

Jennifer Creagar
Resurrection Prayer Ministry

Jesus in the Company of Friends

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A few weeks ago my whole family went to Texas together to celebrate our nephew/cousin’s wedding. Because our extended family lives in all different states, I also anticipated the event as a joyous family reunion. The “save the date” was on our refrigerator for a good part of the past year, and as the family trip got closer and closer, my anticipatory joy became greater and greater. There were days prior to leaving town that I felt like I was going to burst with joy, and in my prayers I continued to express my gratitude to God for this blessing. The best part of it all was that the weekend did not disappoint. The wedding and reception were grand; however, it was the small conversations that happened over simple meals throughout the weekend that also were so life-giving.  Connecting  with our siblings and their spouses over the make-it yourself waffle breakfast at the Holiday Inn, catching  up with the ever-evolving lives of our young-adult nieces and nephews  while having lunch outdoors at a café, and  spending dear moments with my favorite cousin Jan over a cup of coffee provided moments of bonding and happiness.
Throughout the months, weeks and days leading up to Easter resurrection, God also provides us with anticipatory joy that never disappoints. Now that the grand event of Easter is behind us we have faith stories that teach us how to continue to live as people of the resurrection over simple meals in ordinary places. In Luke 24, we find friends from Emmaus eating a meal together in a home back in Jerusalem, and as they are caught up in conversation, Jesus is suddenly there among them. As the dawn breaks on the shore of Galilee after a long night of fishing, Jesus has prepared a meal of fish and bread for Peter and his friends.
In Living the Resurrection, Eugene Peterson says that like a physician who has a practice – work that defines both his and her character and work day… “this is the sense we practice resurrection – we engage in a life that is permeated by the presence and companionship of the resurrected Jesus in the company of friends.”
For your practice of prayer this week, reach out to someone dear to you and invite them to go out for a cup of coffee or into your home for lunch.  Do so with the anticipation of meeting the resurrected Jesus and give thanks.

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