Pardon me if I sound sexist, but I believe there is something about a man that loves to smell gasoline and fire up gas combustion motors. Sometime ago my “wild man” sensibilities were awakened when a neighbor asked to borrow my wood chipper (this wood chipper, by the way, was purchased used from a church member. I have no idea why anyone would want to part from such a fine piece of mechanical testosterone). My heart was pounding at the opportunity to fire up the chipper. I had already chipped up all the stray limbs on our property and shredded every leaf that has fallen on our yard.

I told my neighbor that not only could he borrow the chipper, but I would be happy to help – who would want to miss out on a chance to reduce a fallen Bradford Pear tree to a pile of sawdust? After viewing the tree and her limbs I surmised that this job would be an hour or so. Four hours later our task was complete. Limb by limb we completely mulched the tree and sectioned the trunk for firewood.

The chipper did just fine, but the controller did not. I was deaf. Well, not deaf, but several days later I still had a persistent ringing in my ears. I found myself getting confused when more than one person was talking in a room and it sounded as if all the voices were under water. Perhaps the worst of it all was that I was overcompensating from my hearing loss by raising my voice. Now folks, you already know that I learned to whisper in a saw mill!

Okay, save your letters, I know that I had two choices: wear ear plugs or let my neighbors do their own work. But the second choice really isn’t a choice. Helping neighbors is what we are supposed to do, not only in a civil society, but also is a Biblical mandate. In my best Mister Rogers voice, let me ask you, “Are you a good neighbor?” I hope so. And of course our neighbors are not just the ones who live in our subdivision. They are the ones we see and meet in the course of a normal day: from the dry cleaning clerks, to the one who waits at our table. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 25 that we see him in the faces of others.

‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37, 39)

Neighborliness is foundational to the faith. Just remember, helping your neighbor can be risky. It was for the one on the road to Jericho. My advice is to wear ear plugs and help anyway.

Grace be with you,


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