Monthly Archives: June 2017

Neighbors of Peace


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Neighbors or Peace

Summer Challenge: 5 Invites

Luke 10:1-12

June 25, 2017


Marleen Brooks of Farmington, MO

came home from work one day to find a note in her mailbox.

It was written by a woman who lived on her street.


It said:


“Mrs. ?, (She didn’t know her name)


Would you consider to become my friend.
I’m 90 years old- live alone.
All my friends have passed away.
I’m so lonesome and scared.
Please I pray for someone.” [i]


Would you consider to become my friend.


When Marleen posted that note she added,

“(The note) makes my heart sad…

But on the bright side, it looks like I will be getting a new friend.”


This month we’ve been looking at the great commandment –

Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself…

And how we can move from being ‘nice’ neighbors – to ‘good’ neighbors.

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Struggles in Neighboring

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June 18, 2017

Galatians 3:22-28

Matthew 22:34-40

John 13:3-5, 12-15


Jesus says the greatest commandment is

to love God with… well with all that we have.

And the second he says is like it:

To love your neighbor as yourself.


We continue our sermon series on neighboring,

and in light of so many things happening in our world this week,

it is a word of challenge – and a word of hope — we are given today to hear.

Love your neighbor as yourself.


Pause and think for a moment…

Who are the people you find difficult to love?

Who presses your buttons?

Who triggers things in you perhaps from past relationships or experiences?

(Maybe it’s people who ask questions in sermons…)


Putting it mildly…there are people who just rub us the wrong way.


A friend of mine asked for people to share their “pet peeves” on his FB page this week.

In the space of just a few hours he had over 70 comments

about people who drive us nuts!


“People who don’t use turn signals”;

“People who throw cigarette butts out the window”;

“New England fans of every sport” (that one hurt!)


There is a difference of course between the pet peeves we have about our neighbors…

And the real roadblocks, the real struggles, the real divisions we have with our neighbors.

The former are petty annoyances.

The latter as we learned again this week can be dangerous. Continue reading

Who Is My Neighbor?

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Who Is My Neighbor?

June 11, 2017

Luke 10:25-37


The lawyer asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”


I’m not a great neighbor.

I’m probably a better neighbor to those around the world

than neighbors on my block.


I’m a good neighbor to Syrian refugees and

I respond to needs inplaces served by Lutheran World Relief.


But to those who live on my street

and who live physically around the church?

I’m a nice neighbor –

I say “Hi!” and smile and pick up after my dog and keep the grass cut.

But I’m not a good neighbor to the neighbors in my own neighborhood.


Why is this important?


A leader in the community asks Jesus,

“Teacher, what is the greatest commandment?”

Jesus replies,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment.

And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’


He says everything in the Old Testament can be summed up here.


The apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians,

Compacted it even more…

He says, “The entire law is summed up in a single commandment,

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”


Travel back with me to the neighborhood I grew up in…

Preston Avenue –  a street with about 20 houses –

in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Continue reading

We Have A Dream


Pentecost – We Have A Dream

June 4, 2017

“I have a dream…”

These words of Martin Luther King spoken not far from here

still resonate over 50 years later.


“I have a dream I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”


I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.


I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.


I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.


I have a dream today,”

Martin Luther King Jr said.


King had a dream – Pentecost is about such dreams.

Our reading from the book of Acts says

that when the Holy Spirit is upon us,

we will dream – all of us will dream.

Sons and daughters,

Slaves and free,

Young men will see visions;

Old men will dream dreams.


King had a dream…a Holy Spirit dream to be sure!

So why is it that 53 years later,

On a weekend in May,

In Del Ray – a neighborhood of Alexandria –

Our neighborhood —

A series of racist flyers were posted on light poles and under windshields

on Commonwealth Avenue?


King had a dream…a Holy Spirit dream!

So why is it that cities and towns are just beginning to come to the grips with the fact that

our statues and streets named for Confederate leaders are harmful

and rewrite history to make it seem that these leaders were somehow on the right side?


King had a dream…a Holy Spirit dream…

So where is the oasis of freedom and justice?

Why are children still judged by the color of their skin?


Perhaps it’s because when King was dreaming,

many of the rest of us were still in deep sleep.


King was dreaming.

But the dream was  his dream…his and that of a relative few.

It was his dream – and not yet our dream as Americans.


Even now, King would not be able to stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial,

and say, “We have a dream.”

The Holy Spirit is not yet done with his dream.


Pentecost is about the Holy Spirit breathing into us dreams and visions,

and one of the dreams our congregation has

is to help make King’s dream our dream.


We have a dream for racial justice.

And so our anti-racism team is educating ourselves…

We’re reading books by persons of color;

We’re visiting places like the Alexandria black history museum

And the Frederick Douglass house;

We’re learning about issues in our community which primarily affect persons of color here –

Things like affordable housing and public schools.

We want to be awakened to the Spirit’s dreaming.


We have other Holy Spirit dreams.

Continue reading