For whatever reason, the Holy Spirit perhaps, when I was thinking of writing this column the words of a former confirmation student Billy Ball came to mind. As a twelve year old he prophetically stated, “When Jesus said, ‘love your neighbor as yourself’, he didn’t say ‘love your Christian neighbor as yourself’ or ‘love your neighbors you like as yourself’. No, he said ‘love your neighbor as yourself’.” The love Billy was describing was far deeper than love that is reciprocated. It is a love that stretches me. A love that may make me uncomfortable. A love that is more of a conscious effort and action than an emotional response; a love that is offered due to God’s call on my life not on my own ability to manufacture it.

Perhaps “loving my neighbor” was in the recesses of my mind due to two meetings I had earlier this week. One with our homeowner’s association. Here, the dedicated few (not me, this was my first meeting in three years!) have been trying to look out for the many (all homeowners). But there is the inevitable differences on how to best put that into practice. It requires listening to one another. It requires give and take.

The second meeting was more profound, with a leader in our community who is a person of color. They trusted me enough to share that DWB (driving while black) crosses their mind every time they step in their car. Being pulled over never crosses my mind. Yet, this neighbor of mine consciously carries this with them each time they drive. The greater statistical probability that they are more subject to being pulled over than I am. We covered other areas of inequality that makes their daily life like swimming against the current. Every day. I asked if I could ask something very personal; “How do you keep going?” Their response, “My faith. I’m a Christian and God has called me to this work.” If this encounter leaves you with questions, please contact me and we can talk about it. As for me, their response gave me goose bumps on my arms, and a fire in my heart.

God’s peace & justice,

Pastor Jon