Comment from Ken: It is my desire to follow a more organized schedule for our walks. As Sunday is the Lord’s Day and where I am now retired from the active ministry it seems Sunday should be the day I walk with you. To the best of my ability the walk will now be on line either Monday or Tuesday. Thank you for your patience. (Miss you!)
Scripture: Mark 12: 29 – 31 (below)
Good morning I’m so pleased you could join me for our walk today. It is Sunday and the day is cloudy and cool, but it is to turn sunny according to the latest forecast. New England is so beautiful in autumn. Everywhere one drives on back country roads you see pumpkins on doorsteps or on stonewalls. There are fewer places this year with corn stalks and Dale is still looking for some for she loves to decorate with a cornstalk or two or three or more.
We have had our first frost now. The next day our neighbors were out cleaning up their garden. What a wonderful garden they have. Mac and June are about Dale’s and my age and they work together as a wonderful team. Mac was a high school principal and is beloved by the students that grew up when he was in the school system. We feel so fortunate to have them as neighbors and they have made the comment that they are so pleased that we moved into the home next to them that had been vacant for a long time. It is getting so that we keep an eye on each other.
When we removed some lilac bushes that separated our home from theirs I told them that now I could keep and better eye on them and they informed me that that worked two ways – now they could keep a better eye on us. It is a wonderful thing when you have good neighbors. We feel so fortunate to have Mac and June next door.
Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall came to mind when the lilacs were taken out – Each year he and his neighbor mended the stonewall that separated their property. The neighbor always stating good walls make good neighbors. Robert Frost thought that there was no need to mend the wall for now the walls only separated apple trees from pines the wall served no functional purpose. Lilacs did not make good neighbors we can now be more caring and aware of each other.
We were fortunate to have wonderful neighbors next door when we lived in Attleboro, Massachusetts. The Greim family lived next door and they were the best of neighbors. When their children were small two of our daughter’s baby sat for them. As the three children grew up they became ever so close to our hearts. I officiated at the youngest daughter’s wedding as well as following with interest as each of the children left home and started on their independent lives. Of course like our children at times they came home when they started in a new direction. Good parents know that happens sometimes when young people are first starting out. The youngest son will always be dear to my heart. He did not call me “Mr. Boyle” he called me boy. His greeting when I came home after a long stay away was his crying out, “Boy is home. Boy is home.” How wonderful those words were to me after a very stressful period in my life. Like his father loved golf so does Keith.
Never did I see two parents more involved and supportive of their children. Nancy and Alan were always working to the best of their ability to create a wonderful home for their children. Nancy a great cook, being of Italian descent, and Alan working sometimes more than two jobs to support his family. Many times he would be up in the wee hours of the night to go to work. All of their children were college educated; a teacher and nurse, a successful accountant and a physical therapist.
At times in looking back I know I was a home putter and always had a project going on at our home. Alan when he was not working wished to spend his time with family and golf. He was not a handyman. Yet he always saw that his house was in good condition because he hired others to do that work. My working around my home was my hobby. That does not have to be everybody’s hobby. I miss the Greim family as neighbors and hearing about the lives of their children.
Years ago when I was pastor in North Reading there was a wonderful family in our church who loved the church and were active in every activity from boards and committees to fairs and keeping repairs needed at the church accomplished. Living in one neighborhood they were shunned and disliked by their next-door neighbor. There never seemed to be a reason for the neighbor’s actions toward a family that I loved and respected. The situation became so stressful that my church family finally moved to a new section of the town. When the moving truck was being loaded the contentious neighbors came out and raised the flag as a symbol of how delighted they were that my church friends were moving. How despicable that is that neighbors could be so hateful toward a very caring family. I will never be able to understand the angry neighbor’s actions.
When getting approval for the church schoolroom on our home in Attleboro I was required to attend a council meeting at the city hall. While waiting for my request to be heard two neighbors were there who so disliked each other that they both put up a fence between their properties. One neighbor could not paint their fence because there was not enough footage to do so without crossing into the other neighbor’s territory. How shameful that neighbors with differences cannot overcome those differences that it becomes necessary for a neighbor to move away to have peace.
Neighbors do not all have to be alike to have respect for each other.
So many times we need to “wear the moccasins” of our neighbor to understand their actions and manners. We are all different from each other and those differences can make us separate or more understanding of each other. What kind of a neighbor are you? What kind of a neighbor am I? So many times I think of how blessed I was to be born to a loving father and mother, to be brought up in a happy home with good moral values. Well some people did not have a childhood like I had, did not have the same advantages that I had – so is it not incumbent upon me to reach out in love and understanding to those who did not have the blessings that flowed upon me? As a matter of fact I believe our Christian faith demands that of me.
Jesus told his followers to follow the Ten Commandments but to also add two more.
“28Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
29Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
For a moment this day think of your neighbors. Are we friendly to our neighbors? Do we love our neighbors? Is there a way we can be a better neighbor? Good neighbors can be one of the greatest blessings in in our lives. I know that for I have known very good neighbors. I hope you – I hope we have all been what Jesus asked of us – Loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Prayer: O loving God, help us this day to be a good neighbor. Fill our hearts with a Christ love that helps us understand difficult neighbors and to reach out in love, understanding and compassion to ALL our neighbors; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“ And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”