Twilight Twitches

fetscherDear Family,

Neighbor, someone who is a 'near-dweller.' SO, the question of the day might be, "Who is my near-dweller?" As I thought about it, it seems like that means anybody, from my great pastoral assistant to the person I find myself standing next to when I'm checking out of Publix. It seems they all qualify; folks who are near.

It's one thing to be nice to Annie. Even then, I can be oblivious to her presence, because sometimes it's so easy to take your closest friends and co-workers for granted. That's the danger of being around someone so much you run the risk of not seeing them.

Then there's the other extreme of absolutely ignoring the check-out counter person because you'll never have to see them again. (Of course, they will probably be parked next to you in the parking lot and might even help you change a flat tire. That happened to me one time. Leo Rangel did it in the CVS lot.)

In the last weeks of our liturgical year, we find Sunday scriptures focusing more and more on the basics. It doesn't get more basic than loving God and loving our neighbor.

In today's first reading from Deuteronomy 6 we have the famous Shema Israel, the fundamental Jewish prayer of faith. Jesus adds Leviticus 19:18 to Deuteronomy and we hear that we are called to love our neighbor, our 'near-dweller,' as ourselves. Now, love of God is dependent upon love of neighbor, the 'near-dweller,' my 'near-dweller!' Today's gospel is special because Jesus encounters a scribe who says the most remarkable thing for a keeper of the law to say:
 
"'...to love (God) ...and your neighbor as yourself' is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." In the two episodes before today's gospel, Mark had Jesus calling the scribes and the Pharisees hypocrites. And here is one who seems to have gotten the message Jesus was offering. He's a special guy, indeed. I have this vision of the scribe/neighbor bumping elbows with Jesus and being radically touched in his heart. Sounds like being a good neighbor had some benefits, no?

Like it or not, it's ALL about elbow bumping!

Speaking of elbows, one of the best elbow experiences was last week's Oktoberfest. Maybe it was God's gift to help us bear the heartbreak of pipe-bombs and bullets. I would never want to seem to trivialize the challenges we faced by contrasting them with a party. I can say that the way we deal with it is being Neighbors!

There are many to thank. Our young people, Nino Pusateri, John Phillips (the younger), Genna Ambat and her friend Justienne Octavo, and Rick Gomez were unswerving in their help. Bryan Gipps had signed up but got a bad cold. He still gets indulgences for wanting to be part of the crew. (Simon Rave was there too, as an illustrious alumnus of "young people.")

Thank you, Lord, for Elli Hurst, Brian McMahon, Connie Reed, Gina Wright, Judy Fisher, Fred Schmid, Liz Seigle, and Chuck Wobby. Last week I envisioned someone teetering on a ladder stringing lights. Well, the task fell to Chuck. He didn't teeter. He did return on Saturday to 'unstring.' Many more helped each of these ringleaders and all I can say is Thank You to all of you who make us look good, even when we have a lot of sadness and maybe some apprehension surrounding us.

We cope by being Neighbors, In Jesus,
sign frjim

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