Happy Valentines Day!
On this day of commercialized love and romance, I thought it appropriate to reflect on all of the work we’ve done over our first sermon series this year. The love of Christ, which is true and unconditional, leads us to know and to love all people, just as Christ has loved all people. This is the core of what we’ve explored. At the forefront of our journey has been Mr. Roger’s spirit, leading us to be more loving towards our neighbors. In that way, we have to know our neighbors, reaching out beyond boundaries like race, gender, the difference in ability, and socioeconomic status. While I love the chocolate that comes along with Valentine’s Day, I think these ideas get more to the true and difficult spirit of love, don’t you?
The catch, though, is that we often desire to put limits or boundaries on love and neighborliness. In our humanness, we’d rather say no or separate ourselves than be invited into the radical and wild love of Christ. We heard over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend that Christ wants to bring us together in unity, as one body. Yet we struggle to know who is included in that. Being honest, I often pray, “Really them, too, Jesus?” My less-than-sanctified prayer reminds me of the opening statement from this week’s scripture,
“And who is my neighbor?”
Where is the line, Jesus? How can I get out of loving that person?
How can I put up a boundary between us?
Have you ever thought in this way?
It is the Good Samaritan that teaches us that we cannot put up lines, or walk on the other side of the road. It is Jesus who modes unconditional, sacrificial love. And it is this love that leads us to treat our neighbors better, with more respect and dignity. This is the message of Mr. Rogers, too.
This week, we’re lucky that we get to dive into this challenging scripture passage at the heart of our message series. But we are even luckier because the Rev. Dr. Latricia Scriven will be leading us. Rev. Dr. Scriven is one of the most joy-filled, wonderful pastors I have known. Her laughter is contagious and her excellent work speaks for itself. She is a bright light in our conference, and as we thought about how we wanted to work through this sermon series, we couldn’t imagine doing it without her leadership. I trust that she will challenge us in all four of our worship services this weekend, and I can’t wait to hear her FAMU Wesley Worship Band at the Gathering!
Be sure to join us for one or multiple of these opportunities! Pastor Annette and I reflected this week that we are so grateful to be a part of a congregation that walks through difficult conversations together. I’m excited to continue that work this Sunday with you.