This blog, small points of light, has been (and continues to be) my forum to chronicle the daily moments along the journey of life where clarity or inspiration appear. I originally started this blog as a time-limited undertaking during lent as part of my daily intention to nourish my spirit, but I have found social media taking on an important role in my faith journey beyond that first intention. I love the serendipity of seeing what opportunities come along when we open the door and allow ourselves to step through into new experiences.
I was sharing about my social media immersion with the new interim rector at my parish a couple weeks ago over a casual lunch shortly after her arrival. Between bites of salad, divine inspiration brought together an idea to explore the theme of “Who is My Neighbor” during the remaining 16 weeks of what we call “Ordinary Time” on the church calendar, the time between Pentecost and Advent. This is the liturgical season of the people, the time in which our thoughts and reflections turn to living out our lives through the ordinary moments of everyday being and finding the divine reflected in the everyday.
Or, as I have grown fond of calling them: small points of light.
And so, a new idea came to life during that conversation. Sixteen weeks of Ordinary Time. Sixteen weeks of gospel readings from Luke that begin with a familiar story to many: The Good Samaritan. Sixteen weeks where the questions that emerge from the readings prompt us to look into our lives and communities to see the divine presence of God in ordinary life, which can lead to extraordinary opportunities for love, service, and social justice. Sixteen weeks of social media, podcasts, TED talks and other cyber inspiration that help bring those themes into our everyday lives and work. I want to say up front that it has been a truly amazing experience so far, just in the reflective work of bringing this together.
While this is a conversation highly relevant to my own faith community (St. Thomas Episcopal Church) it is really a life conversation for everyone, irrespective of our faith traditions or humanistic views on life. My own expressions of faith have been diverse and free ranging over the years, but it always comes back to this: love your neighbor as yourself. This project is 16 weeks of reflecting on how we might go about doing that…meaningfully…in today’s diverse world.
Since my role on the project has involved curating social media links and questions for my faith community in response to each week’s readings, I decided I wanted to co-host a conversation here on my blog each week as well for the larger cyber-neighborhood in which I write and share inspiration. I hope people of all walks of faith and life will participate; this is a conversation about the neighborhood of the world we live in and how to bridge the divides of ordinary life in order to know and love our neighbors and each other in ways that are rich and full.
Perhaps we will encounter the divine spirit of love and grace in new ways as well, as we converse together on this ordinary…but extraordinary…theme of “Who is My Neighbor”
“Who is my neighbor?”
It is a question asked of Jesus by a lawyer wanting both to test Jesus and to justify himself. It is a question to which we are all seeking answers. We only have to glance at our lives, divided into groups of the like-minded, the hostility of our social and political conversations to know how important this question is to us right now. How do we reach past what divides us to love our neighbors as ourselves?
Over the next 16 weeks, as we move through what we call “Ordinary Time” we will reflect on answers to the question, “who is my neighbor?” using the Gospel of Luke and its account of Jesus’ teaching, story-telling and miracle-working as one reflective lens. At the same time, we recognize there is a conversation about knowing and responding to our neighbors happening in the public media. Perhaps in walking through the lessons that speak to us about neighboring, in exploring social media through links to blogs, podcasts, TED talks and video reflections…and in talking with each other through all these outlets…we will begin to experience God’s presence more fully in our own neighborhood.
Before delving into each week’s theme, let’s pause for a moment to consider where each of us begins on the subject of “who is our neighbor?” For those of us (and we know who we are) for whom “neighbor” makes an immediate association with a certain warm and loving, sweater wearing television personality, this opening story is for you…
Attempting to be a good neighbor, in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood :
Tune in to Act I from an episode of This American Life with Ira Glass
And, since I’m the one curating some of our social media along this journey, I thought I’d start by putting my own reflection out there. In a blog post I wrote last winter, I realized that sometimes we are reminded by the least likely sources that neighbors come in all shapes, sizes, and forms…and all of us seek to be known, loved, and called by name:
What about you? Where are you starting from in this conversation about “Who is My Neighbor?”