Love Your Neighbor

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Or should I say, “¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!” It’s quite a week. Some of you may have missed yesterday’s holiday as well – Star Wars Day.

[Disclaimer: Before I get into my story, let me confess something. God’s doing something in me and I need to share it because I think He wants to do it in our congregation. Some of us already have “it,” but others of us need to grow in what I’m talking about. I know I do. I’m miserable at it, but God’s been growing me in it lately and I feel like I should share my process with y’all. And if the Branch is going to flourish, we all need to grow in this. What is it?]

Loving our neighbors.

Our neighbors have a couple dogs named after Star Wars characters. I’ll let you guess which two. Anyways, we were having our regularly rushed evening last night. I’m trying to get my daughters home in time for dinner, but something I read today made me stop at the pet store, endure my girls’ appeals for a puppy, and pick up a treat for the neighbors’ pooches to celebrate this most important holiday – “May the Fourth be with you!” Get it? Punny, eh?

I’m always working on a book that I might help me move forward as a pastor and/or us as a congregation move forward in the mission God has given us. Next on my list was Life-Style Evangelism by Joe Aldrich. I’ve heard it’s a classic, but the world has changed since it was written. Ronald Regan had just started his first term. We’re talking about a different world. I wondered if it was worth the time or if I should get something a little more “cutting edge.” I’m sure I should, but I decided to give it a chance. It hooked me out of the gate.

I’ll have my antennae out to avoid those things that are out of date, but when he listed the barriers to evangelism in our world, it couldn’t be more timely. Specifically, the author notes that we are overwhelmed with people contact – there’s no way we can care for every need that crosses our path. We’re too busy to really invest in relationships, to care. There were a couple more, but these jumped off the page at me.

I don’t know about you, but these were direct hits on me. The images of suffering around the world have numbed me, I’m sad to say, to a certain degree. And my schedule is absurd at times. But Aldrich’s response isn’t to give up. I’m not sure what his response is yet, but I suppose his book’s title is a good indicator.

We have a hope worth sharing. Aldrich was discovering 35 years ago what is perhaps even more true today. People don’t want to be projects, they don’t want to be preached at, they don’t want to be some spiritual checklist. They want to be loved. They want to be cared for. They want to be genuine friends.

Friendship takes time. It doesn’t fit tidily into a schedule. It’s living life and caring for those God brings across our path – wherever they are, or end up, in life.

So we went to the pet store and delivered our Star Wars Day gift. It took a little bit of time, a little bit of effort, but maybe it will be the beginning of a wonderful friendship.

Forget the force, the Spirit is with us. Let’s love our neighbors.


  • Mother’s Day is coming on Sunday! You’re welcome. Get to work.
  • We have a fun element in our service on Sunday. We’ll have flowers available to give to the ladies in our lives who have played a motherly role. So be thinking about which ladies of the Branch who have blessed you in some way. We’ll have a flower available for you to give them as an encouragement and a small toke of gratitude.
  • We’d like to do a baptism service soon. If you’re interested, please fill out a Connection Card on Sunday.

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