Luke 10: 29-37 The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Verse 29 “Who is my neighbor?”
We met some neighbors we did not know before during the early days of the pandemic. Our neighborhood organized bears in the windows, chalk the walk, puzzle and game exchanges, and other fun events that did not exist before. Adam and Natalie and their three daughters arrived one morning to chalk our driveway. They spent a few hours doing this and their efforts created a beautiful rainforest with sloths, birds, and tropical plants. They asked what we wanted in chalk; and responded to our requests with enthusiasm. My favorite rainforest creature is the sloth, and I own several stuffed sloths, and adopted a sloth from Costa Rica one year. I proudly shared my sloth animals and adoption certificate and picture with them.
A few days later the family returned with a gift bag containing a small stuffed sloth. We had more conversation, and several weeks later they came to our yard for an Easter egg hunt. We did some neighborhood walks together and exchanged books with one another. When they adopted a dog, we were among the first to meet their new pet Samson. How is it that we moved from strangers to neighbors to friends? We spent time together, we discovered things in common, we scheduled things we could do together. We shared life events and stories. We may have seen Adam and Natalie and their daughters before; their back yard is just across the walking path from ours. Through our conversations and activities, we began to truly see them and know them.
Relationships among people and intentional community move through this same process. We may at first see others as strangers, even enemies, and then move to fully seeing them not as the other, but as friends. This movement can be gradual and difficult and full of challenges. It is a movement that creates community. It is hard work to fully see and experience others we do not know, because it involves purpose and intention and getting out of one’s comfort zone. Creating community is the redemptive work of God, where everyone; stranger and friend, enemy and neighbor is a participant in God’s saving work. Participation in the redemptive work of God has no boundaries. In fact, this work of community often takes place at the boundaries or borders or margins of ordinary life. There is new life and community in these margins.
Lord, empower us to be in relationships at the margins. Help us create community by being a part of the continual movement from seeing the other as stranger to seeing a friend. May your redemptive power move us towards greater understanding and peace. Amen.