Mr. Rogers had a long, fruitful ministry. His show touched countless lives over 34 years and 912 episodes. He taught what it meant to be a good neighbor and intimately connected with his neighborhood. It is not enough to live in the neighborhood; rather, we are meant to connect with our neighborhood. He was inspired by his faith in God. Yes, he was a Presbyterian minister, but he conducted himself in a way that lived love of neighbor. He firmly believed in the importance of embodying the love of Jesus, not just telling about the love of Jesus. Likewise, those who worked on the set recognized it as “holy ground,” for there was something “spiritual” about it!
The last episode aired on August 31, 2001. Eleven days later, the United States would endure the largest terrorist attack on US soil. Much has changed in our world in these last twenty years. And love for neighbors is hard to find. In addition, false gospels of love have appeared that have nothing to do with the true command to love our neighbors, such as tolerance and universalism.
What does it mean to truly love our neighbor as ourselves? Sometimes, it is helpful to go back to where it began, in this case, Leviticus 19.
1) Love for neighbor is founded in the person of God. Five times in Leviticus 19:9-18 you see the phrase “I AM the LORD.” This is significant because God wanted Israel to remember, as he was instructing them on how to show love for their neighbor, that the origin of all love comes from his person and his character. The LORD demonstrated his love for Israel by answering the undeserving cry for deliverance and then providing that deliverance through the plagues and the passing through the Red Sea. The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. Not only is this repeated in Scripture, but also is an epithet in other ancient texts attributed to a deity that they all rejected and wanted no part!
We love because God first loved us. And what is that love? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16a). God’s desire for a relationship with us caused him to move on our behalf, even when we don’t deserve it and even when we reject it. Israel rejected that love again and again, but God still was patient and forgiving, welcoming them back even after they suffered the consequences of their poor choices.
2) Love for neighbor is grounded in the holiness of God. Leviticus 19:2 says we are to “be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” To be holy is to be set apart from the world, set free or removed from the entanglement of sin. We cannot be in sin and love at the same time!
Think about it for a moment: if everyone makes it to heaven, even if they are sinful, then why did Jesus die in the first place? The whole point of Jesus’ incarnation was to become a sacrifice for our sins, taking the weight of the sin of the world upon himself and providing forgiveness for our sins through his shed blood. His blood was shed so we could be set free from the curse and bondage of sin! But if God now accepts anyone into heaven without repentance, then why was the death of Jesus necessary? He could have done so without dying for us!
Satan has lied to our culture. We still need repentance, we still need to live a holy life in response to the free gift of salvation! That is part of the restoration work, the undoing of the curse of sin! Look again at John 3:16b: “…that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus through his love for humanity (and neighbor) made his sacrifice available to all, BUT only those who accept it will reap the benefits. Therefore, love for neighbor is grounded in the holiness for God, for the purpose of loving neighbor is to help point them to the one who can deliver from their sins!
3) Love for neighbor is practiced in the justice of God. God’s love for all is to help restore what the curse had destroyed, to make right things which are broken, out of order. Therefore, love for neighbor, if it is rooted in God and grounded in holiness, will then seek to repair that which is broken all around us. This is the type of love for a neighbor we are most comfortable with: providing food for those in need, being truthful at all times, looking out for the poor, alien, distressed, etc. Again, this is rooted in the person of God, for five times “I AM the LORD” is stated!
Israel was rebuked time and time again in history for having a blind eye toward its neighbor. They had the means to meet the needs but had closed hands. We are encouraged to have our eyes open, see the opportunities to show love, and do so!
4) Love for neighbor…as yourself! The Hebrew phrase camocha can be rendered in two different ways: first, to love your neighbor as you love yourself (How would you show yourself love? Love in the same way.); and second, to love your neighbor as you are loved (How has God shown you love? Love in that same way.). Imagine if we took care of our neighbor with the care we show ourselves. Wouldn’t our world be a better place? What about if we began to show others the same love and mercy that Christ showed us? This world would be transformed!
There are many around us that need the love of God. They are asking us, “Would you be my neighbor?” Can we engage our neighborhood, showing them the person of God, the holiness of God, and the justice of God, as we ourselves have been shown?
Questions for Reflection
1) How have you personally been touched by the love of God? How does that inspire you?
2) What areas of our life do not look like the holiness of God? How can we adjust?
3) What injustices can you address? How can you bring the love of God into that arena?
4) In what practical ways can you show someone this week the love of God as you have been loved?
This Sunday Pastor Ryan will continue the Vision series with the sermon titled, “Called and Empowered,” based on Leviticus 2 Peter 1:3-11. What are we as the church called and empowered to do? Come or tune in Sunday to find out!
Daily Bible Readings for August 24 – 30
August 24: Ruth 2 How did Boaz act as a good neighbor to Naomi and Ruth?
August 25: 1 Samuel 21:1-9 How was Ahimelech a good neighbor to David?
August 26: 1 Kings 21:1-16 How was Ahab a poor neighbor to Naboth?
August 27: 2 Kings 5:1-19a How was Elisha a good neighbor to Naaman?
August 28: Acts 19:18-28 How did neighborly love grow the faith community?
August 29: Genesis 6:9-22 How did the Lord call Noah?
August 30: Genesis 12:1-5 How did God call Abram?
This Week’s Events:
Sunday, August 29–Final Sunday with summer hours; normal hours resume the following week
Saturday, September 4–Adoption Ceremony @ 6 pm
Sunday, September 5–Teacher Appreciation Sunday
Sunday, September 5–Summer Vespers @ 6:30 pm
Sunday, September 12–New Member & Baptism Sunday
Saturday, September 25–Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser for Brethren Woods
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
As we look at the ability to reopen in the coming weeks, we are in need of both worship leaders and children’s story. We are looking for one person each week, rather than a month at a time. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
The plan right now is to have a baptism and new membership service on Sunday, September 12. If you want to be baptized, but have not said anything to Pastor Ryan, please do so ASAP!
In place of our Lenten Vespers, we will have summer outdoor vespers on our church grounds one additional Sunday evening during the summer: September 5 at 6:30 pm. Come enjoy some fellowship, campfire songs, and our wonderful church family outdoors!
This past Vespers, I challenged those who attended to think about an individual who was very courageous. We too can have courage; we have been surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us (Heb 12:1). Likewise, we also have Jesus (Heb 12:2)! Therefore, let us fix our eyes on him, follow his lead, so we do not need to grow weary or lose heart (Heb 12:3).
Beaver Creek family and friends: Please join us on Saturday, September 4 at 6 pm as we have a ceremony of adoption for our newest member of our family, Joscelin! We will have a ceremony dedicating the adoption, and then a time of refreshments after. Come and share in our happiness!
Call to Prayer & Discernment
Let us continue to pray for our nation in the following ways:
1) National return to God
2) Repentance of personal sin
3) Repentance of corporate sin
4) Healing for the brokenness of relationships
5) Our leaders
7) Guidance for our congregation in the days ahead
Misti Wheelbarger is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour for next year. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to her and let her know.
Four Ways to Give!
1) Mail your tithe into the church office
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Drop off in the offering plate on Sunday!
Continue to Keep in Prayer our members in Skilled Care Facilities: Mary G Miller, Shirley Miller, Stanley Suter & Carolyn Wine
John Bennington (health)
Justin & Maryissa Cooper (COVID)–Pastor Ryan’s brother and sister-in-law
Elijah Tucker Dean (health)
Bill Eckard (recovery)
John Fix (addiction)
Janet Good (health)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Hensley family (COVID)
Amelia Kimmell (COVID)
Heath Kimmell (health)
Larry LaPrade (COVID)
Lent family (work)
Barbara Meadows (health)
Alda Miller (health)
Betty Miller (health)
Mary G Miller (health)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Chris Shirk (health)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Tammy Stine (broken ankle)
Frank Tusing (health)
Mary Whitmore (health)
Whitmore family (various)
Tom Wilfong (back/neck)
Owen Wright (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek COB