The Whole World is Your Neighbor

Last Monday, I saw a picture posted on one of my friend’s facebook pages. It was of two next door neighbors’ yards in Ohio. One lawn had a Romney yard sign displayed prominently, and the neighbor next door had an Obama yard sign, proudly placed on the edge for all to see. There were additional large signs with arrows pointing to each other’s houses that said, “And we’re still friends.” That “we’re still friends” sign was a sign of relief for me last week; a moment of sanity; a gift of love. We spent so much time dehumanizing each other in the name of politics this season, it was a breath of fresh air to see that sign.

We’re still friends. It’s over, we are taking our yard signs down, and we are getting back to the business of being neighborly. Our world depends on it. This post-election week, I am feeling privileged to be in a church where we remember first and foremost that we belong to each other, and that we are more alike than different. What separates us is less important than what binds us together.

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Our children are good teachers and reminders of why these principles matter. This Sunday in Children’s Church, the children in preschool-8th grade heard the story of the Good Samaritan. They reflected on a contentious political season that often got mean, and wondered aloud what it might be like if we always took Jesus’ commandment seriously to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” We did that by reflecting both on “how do I want to be loved?” and “who is my neighbor?” The children took paper hearts and wrote one way that they had loved others in the past month, and how they want to be loved. Below are some of their responses:

Ways I want to be loved:

“I would like to be treated fairly and nicely.”

“I want to be loved as much as anyone else.”

“I want my dad to read Harry Potter to me.”

“My sister to stop being mean to me.”

“I would like to be appreciated more.”

“Accept me.”

“Especially today…send me energy.”

“I want to be loved as a friend.”

“I want to be loved nicely and kindly.”

“I want to be loved all the time.”

“I want someone to love me sooooooo much. And I want to help poor people.”

“I want to be treated with respect because I treat other people with respect.”

“Hugs.”

Here are some of the ways our kids were loving to others this week:

“with gifts.”

“at school this week my best friend was being annoyed by a bully at school. She was following her around even after she asked her to stop. So I went over and talk to the bully and tolder to stop.”

“I stopped a bully stop bullying someone.”

“I cleaned my room without being asked.”

“my neighbor is my mom because I help her with leaves.”

“I let my friend use my coat on a cold day.”

“I was a neighbor to my friend when I helped her with a problem.”

“I have helped my dad wrap my mom’s birthday presents.”

“I prayed for Grandma.”

“I went to my cousin’s play and they did great!”

“I gave my mom candy and she is taking me to the movies today.”

“I shared love and rubbed my mother’s back without her asking.”

“I did chores for my mom and dad.”

“I helped my mom water the plants.”

“I gave my friend m&ms.”

“I helped someone feel better after someone else said something hurtful to them.”

“One way I helped someone was when I helped my friend with her homework!”

At the end of children’s church today, I watched as everyone carefully whisked away our chairs, altar and piano like little elves, and within minutes had set up the hall as a young childrens’ play space. Family Promise is staying at the church this week, and the people of this church–elders, adults, youth, children–quickly transformed our space into a loving place for homeless kids to play and live. I marveled at how during a month marked by political rancor and division, we can come together and do the work of church–loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. Love is a verb, and we carry it out in action.

May it always and ever be so.

Robin

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One thought on “The Whole World is Your Neighbor

  1. Anne Lafleur

    So nice, Robin! Thanks for sharing about Children’s church. I love what you did with it, and how much you love them.

    Reply

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