I’m currently in Hershey, PA for three days for the yearly gathering of the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church. My friend Suzanne delivered a powerful sermon to get things started.
Suzanne read the passage from the Gospel according to Luke where Jesus has a conversation with someone about what is most important. In this story they both agree that the most important thing is to love God with all of our capacities and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
And then the individual asks Jesus, “and who is my neighbor?”
Jesus responds with a story with an unlikely hero and it is a story that challenges Jesus’ listeners to consider those we all might consider outsiders or “other” as our neighbor.
Suzanne suggested that it is an important question for all of us. Who is my neighbor? Who is it that I might consider to be not a neighbor to me? Who is it that I might label “other”?
We live in a world where we all might consider every other person we meet as “other” based on life experiences, since our life experiences are all unique in some way. Suzanne suggested that “other” is not a bad thing; that we can celebrate diversity in community so long as “other” means not less than but having different life experience and equally loved by God...she even suggested that we open our hearts to allow the Spirit of God to move us to expand the bounds of community to include as a neighbor our pets as well as all that has life.
what would it look like to see all of our “others” as God sees all of us?
As if that sermon was not enough of an encouragement I also experienced the joy of participating in the first gathering of the Susquehanna Conference Creation Care Team, which is aimed at leading our Conference into a more environmentally sustainable future, under the leadership of my friend Mark who planned and coordinated the meeting. A great group of people, inspiring conversation, and good things to come I’m sure!
(Suzanne delivering her message)
(Me and Suzanne after the Clergy Session)
(The Conference Creation Care Team)