Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Who Is Our Neighbor?

One of my favorite traits of Jesus was the way he turned people’s questions back onto them. Famously, when the “teacher of the law” asked Jesus “who is my neighbor,” Jesus turned the question back on the man with the story of the Good Samaritan.

McGregor received the blessing of an opportunity to be neighbors to people who were evacuating hurricane Rita. I am told the churches of McGregor together provided home away from home for 292 people! Add to that the countless who received friends and family into their homes, and McGregor likely nearly doubled her population for the weekend.

I asked my church people, in a Monday morning email, how we ought to thank these evacuees for what they have given us. I ask the same thing of all of us.

I wrote above that we provided a home away from home. I believe we did. My
experience was that we did not just offer a place to sleep and eat, but we connected with people, many of whom weren’t really the “kind of people” we spend time with. The immediacy of the need, however, gave us the freedom to set aside those standard inhibitions and stereotypes. We made friends. Some of our guests indeed felt so welcome the stress and uncertainty brought by Rita was assuaged, at least for a while.

Many of us talk a good game. Some of us even send money to worthy organizations to provide services and support for people in need. But many of us would like to keep all that at arms length. In other words, we are happy to pay others to do it, but please don’t bother us.

I have yet to talk to anyone who was involved over the long weekend who considered anything we did a “bother.” What we received from our guests, our friends, the “evacuees” was more than we could possibly have given them. We received an opportunity to live as Jesus calls us to live. We owe them a big “THANK YOU!”

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