We Light the Candle of Love

“It’s Time to REALLY Love Our Neighbors”

The focus of this, the fourth week of Advent, is love.  At Christmas time, it’s tempting to sink into sentimentality and nostalgia as if they were warm, fuzzy slippers and forget that the kind of love the bible talks about (in Hebrew, hesed) is more fierce and courageous than meek and mild.

In a recent article for Interfaith America Magazine, public theologian Brandan Robertson wrote these powerful words about love as he considered the 303 Creative v. Elenis case currently before the Supreme Court:

For our pluralistic nation to function and flourish, it requires that we learn to live alongside those we disagree with. This goes beyond mere tolerance and extends to learning to be a good neighbor to people we do not see eye to eye with. Jesus himself taught that this was the heart of what it meant to be a faithful Christian: “Love the Lord your God [and] …Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

… this isn’t a call to merely tolerate and allow your neighbor to freely exist, but actually extends beyond that, calling us to learn to “love” those who are different than us. The Christian tradition defines love as self-sacrificial service to others, setting aside our own comfort and desires to benefit others. This sort of neighborliness is what is needed for a pluralist democracy to flourish.  … we must be willing to serve and do business with those with whom we disagree. In reality, every business does this anyways already- I am not aware of any business owners who do a moral and religious assessment of each customer’s life and beliefs before doing business with them.

… Do we want to be a country that is known for allowing rampant discrimination, where anyone could be turned away at any business at any time because of some aspect of their identity? Or do we want to continue to shine as a beacon of diversity, enriched by our willingness to embrace our neighbors of different beliefs, identities, and values? This is the central question of this most polarized era of American history, and it seems to me that if our pluralistic democracy is going to continue to survive and thrive, there is only one path forward: choosing to be a good neighbor to each and every person that calls America home.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, December 21, at 1:00 pm, we here in Maine have the chance to show love for our neighbors.  The state legislature is holding a special emergency hearing on LD 3, a bill that would provide funding for emergency short-term housing so that families at risk of being turned out in the bitter cold on December 31 can keep a roof over their heads through this winter.  The bill will also provide relief funds to help Mainers with incomes below a certain threshold keep their homes heated in the cold months ahead.  Read on to learn how you can submit your own faith-based testimony to the committee, telling legislators why your faith in the One who taught us to love our neighbors, the One whose birth we eagerly await, compels you to support LD 3