“Who is my neighbor?” The Session1 invites us to explore this theme in the coming church year. Jesus Christ and our scriptures, both Old and New Testament, remind us again and again that the two most important commandments can best be summed up as follows: Love God and love your neighbor. When Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” he replied by quoting the Old Testament:
So, we ask together, “Who is my neighbor?” It’s a great time for that question as we’ve seen lots of changes in the “neighborhood” from right in our pews to our communities. We are excited about the opportunities to come to know and to love those God has called us to neighbor. We’ll start close by having some opportunities to get to know those next to us in the pews. We’ll expand out as we get to know our neighbors in the community and farther away. Over the coming months, we’ll answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” in ways serious and playful, thoughtful and joyful. We’ll learn together, and be invited to live out our learning in new acts of neighborliness close to home and further afield.
In September, our focus is getting to know our neighbor right here in the pews. Because we are not a large church, we have the gift of being able to know a little about every person we regularly worship with, and to know some of them quite well. This month, you’re invited to expand the list of folks you know by name, and to deepen your knowledge of and friendship with them. We’ll have the chance to greet one another in worship, to pray for one another as prayer partners, and to share a meal in homes.
In worship, you’ll be encouraged to wear your name tags, and reach out and shake a new hand at the passing of the peace. At the end of the month, you’ll be invited to participate as a prayer partner with someone in the church. Praying for our brothers and sisters in the faith is an important part of the work Christ calls and equips us to do. I know some of you are already engaged in regular prayers for one another. This is an invitation for others to stretch out a little and exercise some new faith practices, and for all of us who are interested to have a specific prayer partner for the year. This can be as simple as promising to pray for them throughout the year, or you can plan to meet regularly to pray together, or to check in on prayer concerns by email, texts or phone calls.
A fun opportunity to come to know your neighbors in the pews is being sponsored by our Fellowship Committee. On Saturday, September 29th, you are invited to take part in the Get to Know Your Church Neighbor dinner. Look for details on page 4 of the current Presby Press.
How glad I am to call each of you neighbor and friend!
1 The Session is the Presbyterian name for the governing board of the congregation, 12 Ruling Elders who are members of the congregation, called, elected by the congregation, and ordained for service, along with the pastor. The Session is tasked with the spiritual leadership of the church. It is a sign of our changing congregation, many of whom are no longer lifetime Presbyterians, that including the occasional footnote of explanation is part of our call to neighboring.