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Faith Ministry Stories

No Exceptions

Posted by Pastor John Klawiter on with 1 Comments

In the last week, it’s possible you’ve seen a new yard sign in front of homes in the Forest Lake area.

Was your reaction, “Oh no, signs for the next election are up… already???” Don’t worry, that’s not what these signs are about.

The yard signs declare that God is calling us to “Love Thy Neighbor: no exceptions.”

Typically, an election sign is endorsing a candidate or a position. These signs endorse an attitude.

It’s a simple statement, but it speaks to the challenge that we all face. This is something easy to say… but if we’re being honest, it’s not easy to do.

Faith Lutheran hosted Love Thy Neighbor Sunday on May 12th. One of our members, Nancy Mollner, is passionate about refugee ministry and has linked our congregation with Lutheran Social Service of MN.

Faith Lutheran Church is a Direct-Action Team, helping refugee families, through LSS, since the fall of 2017.

“Faith started with a Giving Tree,” said Mollner. “Faith members responded generously as we helped a Somali family settle into Minnesota after living in a refugee camp for 9 years.”

Faith has supported families from Afghanistan, the Ukraine, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Through Refugee Outreach, Faith has provided over $6,000.

Direct support has been an essential part of this ministry, but Mollner recognized another opportunity; educating others about the need to support refugees or immigrants in our country.

By hosting “Love Thy Neighbor Sunday,” Mollner used mission grant money from the congregation to buy the signs that attenders could bring home. We also welcomed a preacher who understands, firsthand, the challenges of first-generation newcomers.

Pastor Horacio Castillo, an immigrant from Guatemala, shared his experience living in the United States. He observed the threats of being deported that his children have felt in school, even though Castillo’s wife is from Minnesota.

He remarked that one of our biggest barriers to loving our neighbor is that we neglect to form relationships with our neighbors—especially the neighbors who don’t look, act, or believe like we do.

What is important about the yard signs? There might be a temptation to see a sign and think “I really hope MY neighbor sees that and would start to act this way.”

I think that misses the point. It’s as much a reminder for each of us. What am I doing to welcome the new neighbor in my community?

My hope is that you see the signs as an invitation. The next time you meet someone you don’t know, start with a smile and initiate a greeting. You might learn something about them, and in turn, your heart might be opened up by the humanity of all of your neighbors. No exceptions.

Comments

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Deacon Nina May 24, 2019 11:52am

This reminds me of a banner I saw at the ELCA Youth Gathering in San Antonio, TX several years ago. It read "You can't hate someone whose story you know." That has always stuck with me!

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