Ministry Moments – August 2019

PLI Ministry Moments
Who is our neighbor? Who do we need to reach out to?
I have been planning the lesson for Friday Friends this past week and I chose to study and present the “Good Samaritan”. I love this parable. Jesus is asked by an expert in the law what must be done to inherit eternal life. This is an expert in the law asking Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Wow! Jesus calmly asks the expert “What is written in the Law?” How do you read it?” The expert answers “Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself”. Jesus then tells the expert he answered correctly. The expert wanted to justify himself and asked Jesus who is my neighbor? That is when Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan.
So, who is our neighbor? Is it the people who live next door to us? Is it the people who live across the street or around the corner? For me I would have to include those I live close to as well as our neighbors around St. Peter’s and Grace. As we were on vacation, we had opportunity to meet and greet and talk with neighbors from all over the World. We met some very wealthy people, some moderately wealthy people and some people who would be considered “poor”. Something I discovered, is some of the most wealthy people are actually “poor”. Some of the wealthiest people I found were not nearly as “happy” as the people that were perceived as poor by society.
When we on board ship we had the privilege of having dinner with a couple from the Los Angeles area. They were a delightful couple and we really enjoyed our time together. We would often be some of the last people to leave the dining room and the staff would be trying to set up for the next dining group. They were wonderful conversationalist and they had so many fascinating stories to tell about all the amazing places they had traveled to. They quite literally probably traveled around the World. They visited countries I have only dreamed of seeing and had amazing experiences. They told us all about the fabulous jewelry they bought from different places, the amazing clothes and goods they got from places around the World. They told us all about their beautiful home, and the plans for the next cruise she would be taking with her friend in just a month or so. They were wonderful people and we so enjoyed having that time with them. There was however something missing, they were constantly worried about losing what they had. They were concerned about their home because of the earthquake, she would NEVER wear her amazing jewelry on her trips because it may get stolen or lost. They were concerned about going ashore to get more things to take home and store.
We went ashore and we asked to be taken to “Old Town”. There we saw and met people that lived in small homes and had small store fronts, they had big families. They were dressed simply and they proudly displayed their goods. I met a couple of ladies that had a kiosk and were selling goods that ladies had made. The “artists” or seamstresses, had taken their time and made table cloths, place mats, dresses and other goods to sell to supplement their small income and help their families. They were proud of the work they did and it was beautiful work. Although they didn’t speak a great deal of English, it was a pleasure to talk with them and choose some amazing things to bring back and share with our family and friends. These ladies blessed me in a way that brought joy. They weren’t afraid of losing anything and they were willing to share what they had with others. Some they knew and others like me they would not ever see again. What they had they knew was a gift from God and they were willing to share. We saw people walking around on the cobblestone streets and sidewalks and some were disabled and people stopped to help them along. If someone was hungry they were willing to share food with them. Vendors sold fresh fruit in plastic baggies and as I was sitting in the town square while Mark took pictures of the Cathedral I noticed those who purchased the fruit eating it and seeing people sitting on the curb alone and they would offer to share their fruit with the people around them, I was even offered some fruit. Vendors kept their money in their pockets, or in small boxes (cardboard). They weren’t afraid of losing something. Their goods were displayed out in the open. They were proud of their goods and willing to share. They weren’t afraid of losing or having their goods damaged. The amazing thing was that I noticed they were at peace and they were happy.
The Cathedrals were beautiful, they were simple and the people were proud of them. Many of them are very old and there is a lot of work that needs to be done on these old buildings. I also noticed they displayed a box to contribute to the repairs so members and visitors could give to that cause. The people were not afraid of visitors coming and walking through their church building and the surrounding gardens, they were happy to have people come and go, to pray and observe the beauty of the Sanctuary. People came and went and sometimes people put a few pennies in the box to be used for repairs. Work still has to be done, some things are obviously still needed to be done, but they are trusting that God will send enough pennies and nickels and dimes to pay for the repairs, in the mean time they have chains holding up their bells and spackle on the walls and they are glad to share it with their neighbors. They are happy to share it with me, I am considered their neighbor.
I loved sitting there in the square and watching and smiling a people, I loved talking to them with their broken English and my really broken Spanish. I loved watching the children make toys out of whatever they found, rocks, sticks or whatever they found. I thank God for the opportunity to share a smile, a conversation, a hand shake, a piece of fruit with my neighbors. I was blessed by my neighbors and I pray they were blessed by me as well. I will keep them in my prayers. The vendors who made the place mats, and sold table cloths. The vendors selling fruit or preparing meals. The children playing in the park square. I also pray for our dinner mates, and their family. Sharing a little bit of me and receiving so much from them has made me appreciate what I have so much more and I want to share and be a good neighbor to all that I meet. I may never see those people again this side of heaven, but I do pray they know God love them and cares about them and that I left a bit of that love with them along the way.
In HIS service,