The man said to Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”
Luke 10: 29-30 (The Jerusalem Bible)
I don’t know why “No” was my thoughtless, truthful answer to Louise’s asking if I would like to take a thirty-minute prayer slot. Katrina, a deacon and the coordinator of our church’s Prayer Works, had just signed up for 8:00-8:30 a.m., Saturday, November 23. She gave me her how-many-years-have-I-stayed-married-to-you look and told Louise I would take the 8:30-9:00 a.m. slot.
Thirty minutes? I could ask God to bless the church’s Give Hope campaign in a sentence. What would I do for the next twenty-nine minutes? Katrina, who also goes to Centering Prayer for an hour each week, said I could meditate on the Good this campaign will do for the church’s pre-school daycare program GLO–“God’s Little Ones,” for City Light Community Ministries, for the church’s Ministry of Counseling.
I reminded her that when I tried deep-breathing meditation–Inhale; Hold it; Breathe Out Through My Mouth; Repeat; Repeat; Count Backward From 10, I fell asleep before 5. I also explained to Louise I had already filled out and turned in Trina’s and my financial commitment card for the campaign. God knows how I feel. Repeating myself for thirty minutes will take up God’s time for hearing people’s desperate pleas for help. Louise nodded Thanks at Katrina, best friend and prayer warrior, and said, “Got you down, Bob.”
Of course I’m in favor of the Hope Center, of being a good neighbor to our downtown church’s community. I’ve written several of these Posts about the blessings I have received from my new friends coming for a noon meal Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the City Light Mission. And the other volunteers and the City Light staff are faithful examples to me of Jesus’s unconditional love for the Displaced, for all of us in need. So why did I say “No”? It shocked me. My response did not, however, surprise Louise and Katrina. I’m certain they’ve been praying for me.
Praying for me like Mister Rogers apparently prayed for anyone who stopped him on the sidewalk, in stores, on a park bench–a beautiful day in this neighborhood, this “beauty wood,” this “neighborly day,” like Jesus gathering to him the little children; the woman reaching through the crowd to touch the hem of his robe; the poor, the hungry, thirsty, ill; those in prison; demoniacs howling from the tombs; despised officials; the blind, the deaf, the withered; the woman taken in adultery; the woman, her back bent double; the woman forgiven, washing Jesus’s feet with costly oil, her tears, drying his feet with her hair; all those lepers; the man no one would help into the pool of healing waters stirred by the angel; the man beaten and robbed and discarded by the wayside; all the dead and dying raised to Light.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11: 9-11, The Jerusalem Bible). So, Louise and Katrina, my prayer is one of gratitude for you, for our church family loving its neighbors, all those in need, opening wide the door.
“Won’t you please,
Won’t you please?
Please won’t you be my neighbor?”
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (1990)
Music and Lyrics by Fred M. Rogers