This morning I updated the website for one of my churches in Previous City; in his front page article the pastor observed:
"Natural disasters bring out the best and the worst in us humans. They provide us with object lessons of the Lutheran anthropological insight that we are simul justus et peccator, at the same time righteous and sinful. The sinfulness is evident in the price-gouging that was occurring before the storm even hit, and there will probably be looting once the waters subside enough to facilitate it.
"But even more striking are the occasions of people reaching out to help their neighbors, taking no account of their race, class, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation or correctness. People in a tough situation helping their neighbors. People in a tough situation not being picky about who it is that is helping them. Loving their neighbors—as themselves.
"There's a lesson here for our lives after the waters subside and we return to the elite infighting of the chattering classes and the high-horse lectures about the brazen immorality of the other side. When a sea of troubles rises around us, wounds that are not easily healed can be ignored for a time while we attend to the more basic needs of the human community."
taking five on my own...
Particularly during the last Revised Common Lectionary year C (also known as "Luke's Year") in the adult SS class I facilitate we studied quite a few passages from Luke's gospel, from the prophet Jeremiah, and from the book of Deuteronomy that in many ways reveals the heart of Torah with its concern for the other, the neighbor, those in need, the overall well-being of the community —"neighborology"— the word about the neighbor.
According to the gospel account according to Luke, after the guy asked "and who is my neighbor?" after Jesus' counsel to love your neighbor as yourself, Jesus responded with that memorable "A guy was going down to Jericho..." that ended with the commandment "go and do likewise." Jesus' example was a despised religious "other-than."
In the current national political situation in the USA, in the way Christianity has become fragmented and divided in the USA, along the world religious landscape, with immense complications of immigrant, refugee, and other non-citizen sojourner status... which of these are my neighbors? Certainly not all of, my neighbor can't be everyone one of them? God's says I'm my brother's keeper – that means my sisters and brothers are my responsibility. To what extent? Please tell me, then, who is my sister, my brother? Or not?
A long time ago I worked with a guy who told us he'd been seeing a psychotherapist who worked from a Christian perspective. One day he came to work and reported his therapist had told him to stand in front of a mirror, look at his own reflection, and declare, "I love you!" "Wow! That was hard," my colleague admitted. The late Jewish theologian Martin Buber tells us love is the responsibility of an I for a thou. Am I my own neighbor? Am I responsible for myself?