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Love Your Neighbor

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  I always enjoy passing this house where the owners rotate great signs from time to time in the front yard. This is my favorite. I think it captures perfectly the teaching of Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan. In that wonderful story we hear the Great Commandment that fulfills all commandments, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” In the story, Jesus goes on to broaden the definition of neighbor for us all. We all must stand against the tendency to love only those who look like us. As my mentor and friend always taught me, “All our spots don’t have to match to love one another.” In a world where we have the ability to hear only opinions with which we already agree and to insulate ourselves from the opinions and people different from ourselves, we need to hear this message. Who knows what we might learn from our neighbors. Who knows what we will find we ha

God Will Supply Every Need

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  It is always interesting how my neighbors choose to stage the items they place at the curb for pickup. There is seldom anyone that just piles their discarded items in a haphazard manner. The homeowners are neat to a fault. Lumber is stacked. Boxes and bags are lined up parallel to the curb. Toys and other items being left behind as children grow are displayed as if the sidewalk were a retail outlet. But the furniture is the best. This chair and ottoman may have served well and seen better days, but it still greets each person who passes by with what feels like a warm welcome and a moment of hospitality. I had the urge to stop and put my feet up for a rest. I was not tired until I saw the chair, then it seemed like just what I needed at the time. In the movie “Bruce Almighty”, there is a great line. After Bruce disturbs the world order by just answering every prayer with “yes”, he explains to God that he was just giving people what they want. God replies, “Since when do people have a

Set the Table

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  There is no end to the interesting things I find placed at the curb in my neighborhood. As I have walked the blocks across the years, these discoveries have been a source of constant entertainment. They often spark my imagination or remind me of stories from my past. I love the variety of items left there. I love the way they are left at the street, the way people display those things they have chosen to discard. On this particular morning I found a set of dishes stacked and displayed at the curb. Dinner plates, bread plates, saucers and bowls taking their place alongside all manner of trash in boxes and bags. My first thought was how interesting it is that, try as we might to keep from breaking a dish from time to time, we do. No matter how careful we are, dishes get chipped and cracked and broken as we use them and clean them and put them away. But not here. These dishes were stacked on the side of the street in the blazing sun, in the weather, in a neighborhood teaming with child

Small But Mighty

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  As I walked past this lovely home with a thick, lush, freshly mowed lawn, I loved seeing this tiny toy lawnmower all alone in the center of things. The little one who lives there had obviously helped their parent with the task of tending the lawn. When all the clippings were collected and the tools put away, this small but mighty mower remained. It appears that it had completed the work all be itself. It appears as if to stand tall and look with pride on the accomplishment of the day. Small but mighty. It was good to be reminded that there is often great power in small things. A thoughtful word at the right time can change the day, sometimes the life, of another. A thoughtless word can discourage and destroy. Taking time to truly see another person can affirm and validate. Treating another as if they are invisible chips away at a sense of value and worth. Jesus said that faith as tiny as a mustard seed could move a mountain. Jesus said that if we are faithful in the little things we

Called to Lead

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  As I walked my neighborhood on a recent morning, I loved this image I happened upon at a home setting up for a yard sale. No humans were to be found, so it seemed as if this guy was left in charge of overseeing the operation. I must say, he seemed relaxed and very much up to the task. He was enjoying the morning before it became too hot to sit and watch the people go by. Sometimes we are surprised at who turns out to be in charge. Sometimes the surprise is that we are the one for the moment, the one to lead. Sometimes we are surprised to find that we are the called one. But if we are called, then God will help us be up to the task. The chair will fit. The challenge for us is to trust that God knows what God is doing and to not lean completely on our human perspective. In the story of Samuel seeking to anoint the king that will follow Saul, we read these words, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. F

Sanctuary

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  I love this picture of the youth choir from my church as they served in St. Louis this week. They had just finished a hot morning of work cleaning up a garden that ran alongside the magnificent sanctuary of the historic Centenary United Methodist Church. Before their lunch break, they gathered in a circle on the labyrinth for a time of devotion. The five red doors at the front of the church provide a vivid backdrop for this gathering of weary pilgrims. The red doors of a church symbolize that this is a true sanctuary, a place of refuge. The red doors invite all who may pass into a safe place, into a place of emotional and spiritual healing. The red doors welcome all into a place of forgiveness. The labyrinth was also the perfect place for this group to gather. They talked about how a labyrinth is different from a maze. The purpose of a maze is to get a person lost. The purpose of a labyrinth is to lead a person to the center and back out again. I love that the journey on this labyri

Brighter

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  At the ball park in St. Louis, every time the home team scores they celebrate with fireworks. It is fun and exciting and helps to keep the fans fired up about the game. It is such a dramatic scene against the sky, the different colors of the explosions and the wild trails of smoke that streak the night. At this particular game, there were no fireworks inning after inning. The other team was ahead 5-0 past the midpoint of the game. But suddenly, the Cardinals came to life! They scored. And scored. And scored. The people in charge of the fireworks were suddenly very, very busy. And the fans went wild each time they lit up the sky. The experience was all the more sweeter because it was such a long time coming. Sometimes our experiences in life can be made all the sweeter because of what went before. Long years of hard work to pay our way through school makes graduation all the better. The freedom from pain that comes after long suffering makes each moment of life a more appreciated gift