My dear siblings in Christ,
Did you miss the celebration? Not the baptism on September 9, or Celebration Sunday for Raise the Roof on September 16, or even the delight of a rousing game of Church Bingo followed by prayer partners in interactive worship on September 23. How much God has given us to celebrate in worship, but I’m not talking about these celebrations.
No, I mean, did you miss the celebration of National Punctuation Day on September 24? Our church sign reads, “Welcome Neighbors!” On first blush, this feels like an invitation to our neighbors to come and worship with us – but that sign would read: “Welcome, Neighbors!” There’s no comma in our sign. So, although we do hope our neighbors will read it as word of welcome, it is primarily a reminder of the commandment God in Christ gives us to welcome neighbors!
We are invited to welcome neighbors into the church, certainly, but also to be the church in our communities and to welcome neighbors into our lives. The commandment to love neighbors is not only meant by God for their good, but for ours. We are created by God in a beautiful, interdependent web of relationships, incomplete until we are together in community. Like the rainbow flag which signals the breadth of God’s hospitality, we are called to embrace the rich diversity of neighbors God has given us, for their good and for ours.
So look around this month – right next door, or walking down Main Street. Notice your neighbors, greet them, begin to know them – especially the ones different from you. This is not only God’s commandment to us, but also God’s gift. In the neighbor, we are invited to meet Christ, and in our encounter with the neighbor in need, we are invited to be Christ’s hands and heart.
Check out the many opportunities to answer our question for this church season, “Who is my neighbor” both in and outside the walls of the building as we live out our calling to be the church and Welcome Neighbors!