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My minister sent me an e-mail today (well, yesterday by now, I guess). They are focusing in on community in the next several services evidently, and we had a long talk several weeks ago about the good Samaritan story, which has always been the most powerful story in the Bible to me. And so he wants me to talk for three minutes - as if I can say anything in three minutes - about community using this story as the backdrop. And so here is my first pass - I thought I would share it with you as another group of my neighbors.

The most compelling story in the Bible has always been the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10. At various times in my life, I haven't been sure about many things religiously. And when my faith is at its lowest point, it has always helped me to come back to this story. Because I know that whoever told this story touched God.

At various times in my life, I had seen this story through two perspectives. At good times, when I am in touch with those around me, I can associate with the Samaritan, who is so kind and nurturing and loving. At not so good times, I associate with the priest. The one who crosses the street so as to not confront the potentially dead body. I associate with this priest most of all; he is following the rules, after all. I am an accountant, and we are good at following the details of the rules, not so good at using our hearts and our emotions.

I first came into this church last August. And at the time, I experienced this story from yet another perspective. A perspective I have never heard talked about much: that of the half dead guy lying on the side of the road. I sat in these pews for the first time about four and a half months after my wife Becky died. I felt very much like life had left me half-dead on the side of the road. Lying there is not a fun place to be. Us men like to be in control of our lives, and watching cancer slowly sap my wife's strength and then her life showed me all too well how impotent I am.

But there is one good thing about being broken on the side of the road: you do find out who your neighbors are. I have a neighbor named Shirley. And every week she asks me how my week went. And here is the funny thing: I tell her the truth, and she likes it. I don't just say fine, but I say exhausting or exciting or let me tell you about the date I had Tuesday afternoon. And I have a neighbors named Lisa and Allen who invited Katie and I over to their home for Jordan's birthday party when they barely knew us. And I have neighbors Bill and Hal, and though we are all at different stages in our lives, we share this bond of being widowers making our way through another week. And I have a neighbor Elizabeth, who came up to me two weeks ago and said, I just want you to know that I am thinking about you, knowing how hard Mothers' Day must be.

Now, nine months later, most of the time I am not the guy lying half dead on the side of the road. Most of the time I am back to being the priest, caught up in my sin of following the rules. My prayer for us all this week is that we can be aware of who are neighbors are, and hopefully without having to be lying on the side of the road. I don't know much about the end of times, but if we are all standing together and God asks, "Who was this man's neighbor?", y'all be sure to raise your hands.


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Sounds as if you have some WONDERFUL neighbors!!! How lucky you are. AND how lucky for them to have YOU.

I never thought about being the half dead guy either. But now that you mention it, I HAVE been there myself. And you know what? You are right! I, too, had neighbors sort of pick me up and put me back together again. Thanks so much for pointing that out for me.

Hope you have things under control there and that this week proves to be a wonderful one for you and Katie!


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  • 1 month later...

I've been the half-dead man on the side of the road myself a time or two. It was so hard to watch cancer take Becky away. It was hard to watch Curtis and Katie pack and move too. It was hard when Terry had cancer and when we had the most recent cancer scare. All along I've had great neighbors, both literally and metaphorically.

Thank you, Curtis, for sharing this!

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