We just ’concluded’ a year exploring the theme “Who is my neighbor?” I put ‘concluded’ in quotes because this question is one which is crucial every day for those who want to obey God and to follow Jesus faithfully. Jesus taught what the scriptures of his Jewish faith taught – the two most important commandments: Love God and Love Neighbor. Indeed, Jesus said that all the law and prophets – the whole story of God’s love for humanity, God’s desire for righteousness and justice, are summed up in those two laws. So, like any human (or in the case of the Biblical story, a lawyer), we ask the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
We’ve been asking it all year, and the Holy Spirit has answered in many and various ways: from ongoing activities like Community Dinner, Trenton breakfast, Kids Club, Advent Pageant (this year with even greater participation from our Kids Club neighbor families at the dinner and in the pageant), Youth Group (with Catholic, Methodist, neighborhood kids as well as children of members and friends of congregation), Vacation Bible School, to new ones like Movie nights, Mission trip, Bible studies, Church Has Left the Building, ESL classes, Bike Clinic, Immigrant Rights Presentation, Dinners with Friends from the church and Better Beginnings, Afternoon Teas, Master Gardeners with the little seedlings, IEE conversation, family events. What a delight to have the year culminate in our Pentecost Block Party on June 9. Art ministry festooned the outside of the building with invitations and in celebration; Fellowship organized a feast; Outreach invited our neighbors – literally by leaving an invitation for everyone in the immediate neighborhood of the church. The result was feasting, games, dancing – friendships forming and welcome overflowing, the kind of party Jesus and his Spirit make whenever strangers become neighbors. Thank you to each and all of you who were there to celebrate, and especially those of you who worked so hard that we might play together. And thank you to all of you who participated in one way or another in any of these activities this past year engaging the neighbors God has given us.
We know God’s presence is not confined to our building, and the Holy Spirit is at work and at play in the communities in which we live and work and go to school. I invite you to one fun way to discover God in the neighborhood in these slower paced days of summer, in a game of Who is My Neighbor Bingo. This is a repeat of the invitation I issued in the fall, a challenge which nobody won so the prizes are still waiting to be awarded! Fill out the Bingo Card the inside back cover, and return your completed card to me by September 8 and you can pick a Christmas hymn of your choice to sing at one of our Advent worship services!
May God give you rest, refreshment and joy this summer, and always!
Grace and peace,