From Riki Schoppert, Director of Worship Arts …
I’ve been thinking lately on the parable of the Good Samaritan and what it really means to love your neighbor. The law says to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength and all your mind.” (Deut. 6:5) and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev. 19:18) In the Gospel of Luke, in response to the question “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus tells a story about a man who is attacked by robbers and left half dead in the street. Both a priest and a Levite see him, but pass him by leaving him where he lay. Then the Samaritan happens by. He shows compassion by bandaging his wounds and bringing him to the nearest inn. There, after caring for him personally, he leaves money with the innkeeper to pay for any additional needs until he returns. Jesus then asks the questioner, who does he think was a neighbor to the injured man? Now there is a lot of subtext here regarding Jewish law and being ritually unclean, as well as the low social status of the Samaritans. But when you get right to the heart of it, Jesus makes it clear that the Samaritan, not the priest or Levite, is the neighbor. And what one has to take from the story is that 1) Everyone is your neighbor, and 2) loving your neighbor isn’t always convenient. Sometimes it requires sacrifice, both big and small.
We are in a season where loving our neighbors simply has to be the top priority. Instead of getting frustrated that we can’t live our lives the way we are accustomed to, we have to think about how we are individually called to love each other in this moment. My younger son celebrated his 22nd birthday a couple weeks ago and we drove out to his apartment to drop off gifts and food, but stayed in the parking lot 6 feet apart from each other wearing masks and there were no hugs. That was excruciatingly hard, but that’s how we needed to love our son. I’ve had the same woman help me clean my house for over 15 years. Right now, I’m paying her to stay home to keep us all safe. My house is a bit of a disaster, and I really hate cleaning. But that’s how I need to love her right now. My husband desperately needs a haircut, but until it’s safer to open the salons, he’s just gonna be shaggy. That’s how we’re loving our neighbors. I think about the essential workers: health care providers, first responders, sanitation and janitorial staffs, grocery store workers, etc. I think about their families. I’m not making that kind of sacrifice but I am grateful to those who are. I see people sewing masks by the hundreds. I don’t have that skill, but I am grateful for those who do. The very least I can do is wear one of those masks out in public to protect those around me. I think about the economic hardship that many are suffering. I’m not making that sacrifice either but I can and do financially support organizations that are helping with food distribution for those who need it. We may not be able worship together in person, but I can record music to worship God and lift spirits when we can’t be together. God is still glorified when we worship in our homes.
This pandemic has upended the lives of practically the entire world. So let’s be patient with each other and figure out what loving our neighbor looks like today. When tomorrow comes, it may look different. That’s ok, we’ll be ready. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13