Luke 10: 36-37. Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
When a lawyer asks, “Who is my neighbor?” in Luke 10:29, he is hoping to put boundaries around who he is required to love in order to fulfill God’s command to love “your neighbor as yourself.” The thought of showing love to everyone you might encounter can feel exhausting! But Jesus transforms this question from a limiting one to an empowering one. Instead of putting requirements on who we consider to be our neighbor, Jesus reveals that our role is to be the loving neighbor ourselves! When we focus on being a good neighbor to others, we allow ourselves to share our love in the moment. Instead of worrying that we might somehow run out of love for everyone, we trust that God’s love will find a way.
This month we begin to ask the lawyer’s question out of this transformed experience with Jesus! We want to know more about our neighbors here in Morgan Park, not because we want to figure out who we can exclude from our ministry, but because we want to discover how to be a loving neighbor for those who we encounter in this community today.
We will do this in a few different ways. First, we will look at demographic data about the people who live in our community to help us think about how to be a loving neighbor for those outside the church. We will use analysis about our community from MissionInsite.com that helps express what might be important to our neighbors depending on their identities and life stage. We will process this in conversation as a congregation at our January 28th Discernment Gathering.
The second way we will seek to understand our neighbors is to go out and ask them about themselves! We will identify groups and organizations within the community that represent the voices of our neighbors, and then I will ask you to go out to talk to one of these groups to learn about their needs and their dreams for the community. When we gather again on February 25th, each of us will be able to share what we learned about our neighbors!
“Who is my neighbor?” As a part of this community, you are already an expert who can answer this question from deep experience and relationships! Your voice is so important to this process of discernment as we rediscover the calling of this congregation for this particular moment. I thank you for sharing your deep wisdom about our community with me already along our journey together. Please join me in prayer for our congregation as we continue in this important process of self discovery in partnership with God.