In my sermon for Reformation Sunday (October 25th), the Rev. Fred Rogers was one of my key examples for the sermon titled “We are All Members of the Family of God.”
The line from his song reverberated with me.
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?”
In a time of such division in this nation and world, I thought it would be a good thing on Reformation Sunday to remind us all that we are one family, celebrating our unity while respecting our diversity.
The lesson from Leviticus 19 and Matthew 22 focuses on the essence of the Law—to love God and love neighbor.
In frightening times like these, we are experiencing being challenged to explore how we can love God and love neighbor during a Pandemic.
For me, one of the key ingredients is to acknowledge each other as a Child of God (Imago Dei).
There are so many stories of people being transformed by personal encounters with the “other” whom they put down or ignore.
There are plenty of examples of this happening in my own life.
One story comes to mind for me.
As a military chaplain, I was called to provide for the first amendment’s free exercise of religion clause by all members of our armed forces and their families.
One group that I supported was the Wiccan/Pagan community in England.
I caught plenty of flak from the conservative Christians about that support.
Who was modeling that love of neighbor?
The work I did with the Wiccan/Pagan community revealed to me the love of neighbor as they welcomed me and affirmed my spiritual path as a Christian.
They were a part of my efforts to build a bigger table of inclusion in our greater family.
Inclusion, not exclusion was the vision that undergirded my military ministry and continues to do so today.
COVID-19 has brought a lot of fear and division to our nation.
To mask or not to mask, that is the question (apologies to William Shakespeare!).
Social Media has opened the door and let so much un-kindness in it seems.
One of the things that I try to remember is the wisdom of Thumper’s father from the movie Bambi.
Mom asks Thumper, what does your Father say?
Thumper looks down and says, If you can’t say nuffin nice, don’t say nuffin at all.
So, what do we do as we seek to navigate a pandemic and toxic atmosphere in the world?
We could simply give up and retreat to our caves.
But if we did that, how would the love, justice, and mercy of God be shared as an example contrary to the toxicity that is grabbing the headlines?
I believe that as followers of Christ we have a special responsibility to be, as St Francis of Assisi said, instruments of peace.
There are many ways that we could do that.
This list is far from exhaustive.
*Thank the checkout clerk at the grocery store for working and wearing their mask.
*When driving, if someone cuts you off, say a simple prayer for them as you remain calm.
*When confronted by someone who is itching for a fight, don’t engage (don’t pick up the rope as my yoga instructor taught me years ago).
*Thank the delivery person who is delivering packages and mail as we do more online shopping during the pandemic (at least Denise and I do).
Finally, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say: We can do no great things, only small things with great love.
May the Spirit guide us as we seek to be instruments of peace.
Michael Moore is the pastor of Carrollton Presbyterian Church (CPC) in Carrollton, Georgia where he lives with his wife Denise and their dog Pixie.
Ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1987, he served two small churches in northern Minnesota before going on Active duty as a US Air Force Chaplain in November 1990. He retired in 2011 as a Chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel from the Air Force and was called to serve as the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in DeFuniak Springs, Florida.
He married Denise in 2013 and they moved to Estes Park in August of 2015 where he was called to be the pastor of Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. They moved to Georgia in
August 2020 where he began work at CPC on September 1st.