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Loving your neighbour as yourself


“… thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and … thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Our recent Sunday sermon series has focussed our minds on the first commandment: to love God with all our mind, body and soul. The second commandment is that we must love our neighbour. The two are directly connected: if we love God, then we will love what he loves - his creation.

The bible tells us that we humans are made in God’s image. This powerful phrase has, I’m sure, inspired much thought and much writing. But for me, it simply tells me that all people are uniquely precious. God sacrificed his son Jesus to save us all.

This came home to me last week when a set of tragic events just a few metres from Holy Trinity church ended with a man losing his life. When I heard about it I was shocked, and responded with prayer. But then, to be honest, it simply went out of my mind.

That was until  someone asked me “As a Christian, how have you reacted to what happened? How should the church respond to the needs on our very doorstep?” These simple questions stopped me in my tracks, because in truth the answer was that I wasn’t planning on doing anything.

I realised how inadequate this was. It was the equivalent of walking on past the injured man in the bible story of the Good Samaritan. Usually, I feel powerless to make any difference to the world’s problems. But that’s because my thinking is too small. I forget that through the Holy Spirit, God can move through all of us, even me.

So, how can I, or any of us, respond to a tragedy so close by rather than on the other side of the world? The effects of such an event ripple out from those immediately involved, to those they know, those they care for and those who love them. We can pray for all touched by what has happened, we can try to offer comfort, give support to our neighbours and those nearby, even doing something very simple such as writing a card. These acts may not be much in themselves, but they do extend a loving neighbourly hand through which God can work.

As well as these immediate reactions, it also made me see afresh the importance of our church outreach activities in which we aim to serve our local community through God’s love – things like Glow; The Bridge; Who Let the Dad’s Out? and School Collective Worship. It’s also wonderful that we have members of our church who support and serve LVA, Riverbank, Kick and Street Pastors and others. My prayer is that as Lockdown eases further, I will use the time I have to serve others.

Heavenly Father, I’m sorry for the times when I have walked past the needs in my local area. Help me as an individual, and us as a church, to find ways to love and serve our local community. Amen

Penny Cox, 31/05/2021