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Daily Encouragement - October 23

You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord. You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. — Leviticus 19:15-18 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” — Luke 10:29 That is kind of the question, now isn’t it? Who is my neighbor, or more accurately, who isn’t? Who is it that I don’t have to love as I love myself; and what does it mean to actually love my neighbor? At some level there is a difference between “loving people” and “loving persons.” I mean, loving folks in general is easy. It’s the specifics that are hard. My covenant group uses what is termed “an examen.” That is, a series of questions that we are to ask of ourselves in the privacy of our own heart. When we get together, we answer the questions to one another. Recently we started including a question, “have I caused harm to myself, my neighbor, or my community.” I’ve been thinking a lot about that notion of causing harm to my community. I’ve been thinking about where exactly is my community? Do the choices I make harm the larger community? Some of you have heard me say that when I go on mission trips to other countries, I try to ask myself, “is there something in my life that requires another person to live like this, and am I ok with that?” It seems to me that is the point. Our community is big, and the choices we make effect a large circle of humanity. I am reminded of a poem by John Dunn. Dunn lived during a season of plague in England and was terrified of dying from the plague. He never contracted the plague, but he did go to a plague ward when he felt ill. One night, as he lay in bed, he heard the church bell sound the announcement of another death and he penned these words: No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thy friend's Or of thine own were: Any man's death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. Teach us, O God, to weigh our actions against the lives of people in other lands, the stories yet to be born, the spirits forgotten by the crowd. May all that we do build a community for all. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Pastor Tom Greener

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