Loving your neighbor

In my Intro to Preaching class, my professor frequently talks about preaching as a practice of neighbor love. That can mean a lot of things, including content, length, speaking style, and so on. But there is also something deeper there that points to loving whoever you are speaking with at any time, and ultimately that can go beyond church.

This week’s Christian Science Bible Lesson includes stories of Elisha (2 Kings) healing and helping people in different areas, which are great examples of loving one’s neighbor. No matter who the people were, rich or poor, man or woman, adult or child, Elisha helped them all. Elisha showed unconditional love for all of God’s children.

While it can be hard to imagine, this is possible for us to do today. We can follow Elisha’s lead and do our very best to love everyone daily. One thing I like to do sometimes is walk down the street and think, “You have dignity” or “You are loved” about every person I pass. It makes me smile and is just one way I practice loving my neighbor. Now, there’s no doubt that this is something I can always work on more, but the stories of Elisha inspire me to see everyone as an idea of God and refuse to discriminate based on class, gender, age, and so on.

I hope you’ll get inspired by this week’s Lesson-Sermon in your own way!

@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map).
7:35-8:35 PM, EST.
-In person, or by phone (605) 475-4000, code: 636128#
what: An hour of singing, contemplative prayer, readings from the Bible and Science and Health, testimony sharing, and pure Love.

A call to love.

[revised]

As I think about this date and the challenge it represents to me, I feel compelled to challenge myself.  And why not pose the challenge to you, too?  The challenge: Love more.

Love is unconditional.

We all love the Boston Police Department when they’re restoring order amidst the confusion of violence.  We respect their commands, we party in the street with their victory.  What about when they pull us over?

Would you be able to love a popular, soft-spoken, religious, teenage lifeguard who’s a Best Buddy, a student, and a little brother?  What if he was involved in a bombing or a police murder?

What about Putin or Assad?  Someone in Boko Haram?  How about Obama or Cruz?  That kid from high school?  The beggar outside the coffee shop?  The driver that cut you off?  Your ex?

Yourself?

God loves you, just like She loves Sean Collier and the Tsarnaevs.  And Putin, your ex, everyone in Boston, everyone everywhere.  These are not mere platitudes.  They’re based on Principle (that God made you good and recognizes it) and understanding it can radically improve our situation.

When his reliance on God brought him (peaceful) victory over a whole army that had been sent to kill him, Elisha fed and freed them, thereby earning peace with their king.

Jesus forgave his murderers.

Love doesn’t mean enabling bad behavior — Jesus’ famous “turn the other cheek” is a triumph over violence, a command to demonstrate that violence is powerless against Love.  And he didn’t just talk the talk on that point, either.

Sure, but that’s Jesus Christ.  We can’t all be Jesus…  But we have one God; we’re emanations of one Mind.  We can therefore work to do as Paul asked: let that mind which was in Christ Jesus be in us.

I’m not saying I succeed in my effort at Christ-ian (we really should have a word for that… 😉 ) love all the time.  But I’m working on it, and I invite you to work with me.  I have to admit, I have trouble with people who walk inconsiderately.  And Bashar al-Assad.  But I’m taking it a day, a step, at a time, and I’m committed to loving in a more principled way.  To learning that we all have the same Father-Mother, Good.  To letting go of my claims against them.  To refusing the claims of fault in my siblings.  To demanding that I see the good in their individuality.  I still have more ease with some folks than with others, but I’m working at it.

For instance, I’ve lived in urban areas for awhile, and I’ve often been unsure of how to interact with folks asking me for money, aware that sometimes giving them what they ask for could be enabling destructive behavior, and sometimes honestly taking it personally when I detect attempts at deception.  Lately I’ve taken this question to God (Mind, Love), and have received more opportunities to interact with these brothers and sisters of ours.  I’ve begun learning who some of them are, how they express Good, and how I can effectively express love to them.  I’ve learned to listen, to share, to respect…  And, unsurprisingly, they’ve given me more than I’ve given them.  They’ve taught me about gratitude, grace, humility, strength, and more.  I’m really grateful for them.  (PS: if you want to better love this segment of your family, I recommend the Sermon on the Mount, being a pal, and learning what’s useful to them.)

I spent this time last year asking God to show me how to love the Tsarnaevs.  I think of myself, of those I love, and think of bad things I/they’ve done and people who don’t like me/them, and why I love them anyway.  Why the good in them inherently is more important than the bad, more identified with who they are, more lasting.  I don’t know the Tsarnaevs personally, but I know God loves them, and I know God’s not dumb.  Please join me in loving them and everyone who feels the same conflicts they do.


Some of us are getting together this Wednesday evening to talk about divine Love and how we put into practice our understanding of it, how it makes our lives better and lets us love more.  There’ll also be some readings, singing, and prayer.  We’d be thrilled if you;d join us at 687 Centre St. in JP (or via (605) 475-4000 x636128#) @7:35 (EDT).

I’m … still working on people who walk on the left side of the sidewalk.

<3,

Grant and jpchurch

“One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.”

Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.340