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Loving Our Neighbors

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them,‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Matthew 25:31-46) When our Lord was speaking to his disciples regarding the final judgment, he gave several warnings to his flock to be prepared for his return.  The final warning, quoted above, was perhaps the most chilling and convicting, because he makes it clear that our very souls are in peril when we do not show love (in this example, the love displayed in hospitality) to our neighbor.  We may behave piously in many ways:  Faithfully praying and attending worship, studying and memorizing the Bible and catechisms, saying “the right things” around other Christians.  But Jesus warns that if we do not show love to our brothers and sisters, we have sinned against the King himself.  If we do not show hospitality, we are not acting like sheep, but like goats! This may seem like a strange time to bring up hospitality - after all, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and those God has placed over us have instructed us to stay at home and practice social distancing as much as possible!  How are we to practice these things when we cannot even leave our homes?  Oh, but we can show love to our brothers and sisters, and also to our unbelieving neighbors, in these times!  Did you know that, “Caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household or residence, which includes but is not limited to transportation of a family member, friend or their pet for essential health and safety activities and to obtain necessary supplies and services for the other household,” has been defined as an Essential Activity under the Governor’s current executive order?  That we are encouraged to be, “Developing habits and activities that increase resilience, such as…assisting neighbors…and participating in volunteer activities”?  And, of course, there are many ways you can care for your hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and in prison neighbors from the safety of your home. Here are a few ideas:

  • Recognize that loneliness is widespread.  Call a friend, neighbor, or family member and ask them how they’re doing.  Look through the new church directory and call someone you don’t know well, and get to know them better.  Ask how you may pray for them or encourage them.

  • Consider those who may have challenges getting groceries or other necessities.  Ask if you can pick some things up for them, or transport them and help them acquire these things.

  • Reach out to the deacons (diaconate@calvinopc.org) and ask if there are any needs among our congregation that you might help meet.

  • In many neighborhoods, individuals and families are outside walking (also defined as an Essential Activity!)  If you’re able, go for a walk when others are out there (dusk appears to be a popular time in my neighborhood) and get to know your neighbors better - at a safe distance, of course!  Ask THEM how they’re handling things, and if there is anything you can do to help.

  • Do you have extra supplies?  Ask around and see if anyone is in need.

Remember, feeding and clothing need not involve literal food or clothes, nor do you need to be physically present to visit someone.  If someone has a need, meeting that need is loving Jesus himself.

Your brother,

—Elder Robb Leatherwood

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