“Back in the day” I sold homes for a construction company. I was the sales representative, or new home consultant as we were called, placed in the model home. I helped families as they came in to build their new home in the community. I worked in several different geographical areas of Indianapolis, and what was consistent among families was the importance of the back yard. Everyone wanted privacy and/or to look at a lake, wooded area, tall fences, large decks or patios. As they selected a home-site to build on, it was all about the back yard and privacy. What happened to the front yard? Even more so today we just don’t know our neighbors. What happened? Why do we hide? (I realize the world we live in and the need for safety and caution). My then manager said it was because of the automatic garage door opener! We could now pull into the garage, and shut the door behind us. No longer do we come out and talk to each other like it was when I was growing up.
Fast forward to church last Sunday morning and a woman was requesting prayers for a good friend who had hip surgery. As she went on to talk about this friend she said “we’ve been neighbors since 1969, we know everything about each other!” Wow, I thought, that’s 46 years give or take, that is just remarkable. With the mobile world we live in today having a neighbor that long just doesn’t happen.
So we have our Biblical mandate to “love our neighbors.” It is called the Great Commandment because Jesus commands us to do it. “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30). Jesus doesn’t mean just the ones who might live next door. It is anyone we come into contact with, work with, live near, go to school with and so on. We are really to love each other even when it’s hard to do! (Cue Mr. Rogers to sing his song “Won’t you be my neighbor?”).
How would this play out in our lives if we loved our physical neighbor or someone in your office, school, or church? How about neighboring Secretariats? Is there a movement trying to organize near you? Let’s go! Time is short and the good news of the Good News is even if we fail or forget we get to come back to Grace and try again. God gives all of us free “do overs” so that we can try, try again to love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves. And I think tonight I’ll take some cookies or something over to the elderly lady next door to our home!
Pr. Doug Givan
P.S. Honored to announce I was approved this morning for Board Certification by the Association of Professional Chaplains! I now are one!!! Thanks be to God.