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July 2013

Who Is Your Neighbor?

Pentecost Proper 10; 8th Sunday after Pentecost

From “Scolding the Snakes”

Scripture Reference: Luke 10:25-37
Photo by Julian VanderVeen

Photo by Julian VanderVeen

Once upon a time, Jesus was teaching about being kind and loving to one’s neighbors. One of the men listening asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” The man wanted to know who he had to be kind and loving to. And to answer him, Jesus told a story.

I’d like to tell you a story that’s a little bit like the story Jesus told. Do you remember that man’s question? (Let kids answer: “Who is my neighbor?”) See if you can find the answer to that question in my story. While you’re listening, if you like, you may hold hands with one of your friends.

One day, not too long ago at a school near here, a little boy was swinging on the monkey bars in the far corner of the playground. Because it had just rained and the bars were slippery, the boy lost his grip, hit his lip on the metal bar, twisted his leg badly, and fell smack into the middle of a mud puddle. The boy was bleeding and hurt. He couldn’t stand up by himself, and he was very dirty. He couldn’t cry very loudly because his ribs hurt when he took a breath.

The prettiest girl in his class walked by on her way to the water fountain. Her hair was always neatly brushed and her socks were never dirty. She saw the boy lying there in the puddle and could see that he was hurt, but she didn’t want to stop and help. “I might get mud on my lace socks,” she thought. “And I might get blood stains on my beautiful dress.”  “And besides, I’m not really friends with that boy.” So she walked by him, got her drink of water, and ran off to play.

The next child to see the hurt boy was in a big hurry. He was playing lightning tag, and he had only a few seconds to tag two more people and win. This boy was proud of being the fastest kid in his class. He was also very strong and could easily have picked the muddy boy up and given him a piggy-back ride to the nurse’s office. But he wanted to win the game, so he ran right past the boy with barely a glance.

Finally, along came a small girl who wasn’t even in the same class as the boy. She heard the boy crying softly and walked closer to see what was the matter. This girl was not very popular, she didn’t have many friends, and she was very shy. It took a lot of courage for her to walk up to that boy and ask him if he needed help. When he nodded his head, she walked right into the mud puddle, helped him up, and, even though she wasn’t very strong, helped him limp to the nurse’s office. And then she even helped bandage him up.

Now I’d like to ask you: which kid was a good neighbor to the hurt boy? (Let children respond.) Our friends are our neighbors, and so are the people who live near us. But Jesus wants us to be good neighbors to anyone who needs our help and friendship—even those people we don’t usually play with.

Prayer:  Jesus, make us all good neighbors; help us show your love to everyone who needs your love.

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