the nest

the nest

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Gift of neighbors

Sunday was an awesome "re-set" day for me. I was wrapped up again in fretting and venting about things that are critically important, but out of my control. At least for now. I don't mean that I'm backing off on gun control, support for Planned Parenthood, or any of the other issues that are important to me right now, but sitting at my computer sharing everything I can find with mostly people who agree with me is not really a great use of my time!

Yesterday I started the day with some of my favorite people, leading the worship service at First Lutheran, followed by the fastest, most efficient committee meeting ever, followed by Christmas Caroling right in the neighborhood around our church building.  We have done Christmas Caroling in many ways over the years, sometimes going specifically to the homes of members of our congregation who can't get out anymore, or going to local nursing homes or assisted living facilities, but I can't remember ever going house to house in the neighborhood around our church.

Growing up, my family, along with many others, would go Caroling house to house. Many of you may remember similar experiences. We knew most if not all of our neighbors and knew they would welcome us. Somehow that seems less common.  To be honest, I was a little nervous. We had a number of very enthusiastic children with us and I didn't want them to get discouraged by closed doors. We've been members of First for 20+ years, but we don't know our "neighbors."

We quickly discovered there was nothing to fear!  While there were many neighbors who weren't home (it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon after all), those who were, welcomed us.  Several insisted on sending us away with treats and a few cars driving by stopped to listen.  We are not professional. We didn't rehearse.  We sometimes sang in a few different keys at the same time. No one cared!  We were sharing a gift with our neighbors and in their thanks, I was humbled. Holiday greetings were exchanged with great happiness.

There is so much emphasis on "not offending" anyone in our world today. What if we sing Christmas songs at the home of a Jewish family or a Muslim family? What if someone thinks we are trying to "convert" them? What if they don't like our singing? What if?

What happened to the idea of simply sharing our gifts with each other? When we work so hard to not offend, we build higher and higher walls between "us" and "them". The simple act of stepping off our church property and sharing our joy in the season with our neighbors was one of the most joyful things I've done in months! The smiles on the faces of our neighbors was a gift to us.

We cannot give in to a world that tries to tell us that we should fear our "neighbors." In a global society our neighbors are next door and around the world. Instead of fearing them, we must love them. When we assume the best in others, we are often rewarded with the best in return.

There will be times when a door will be shut, when a "neighbor" will disappoint. Doesn't this already happen though within our own families and communities?? We are all human and in our humanity we will fail and disappoint others. But, what if we lived our life assuming the best? What if instead of approaching strangers with the assumption that they should be feared, we approached them as a neighbor we haven't met yet?

We cannot control what happens out in the world, but we can control our reaction to it. If we react to terror with fear and hate, we do nothing to counteract it. If we respond with love and forgiveness we send a powerful message that those who perpetrate acts of terror or violence will not win.

I don't know about you, but I would much rather die with love and forgiveness in my heart than hate and fear.  

1 comment:

  1. Soooooo well stated, and great to read, especially with everything that is happening. You always have a point of view that comes at a time when I need it the most! Thank you!