Last Saturday afternoon, my wife and I invited a group of our neighbors to bring their lawn chairs and meet in our driveway. Ten of us showed up and positioned our chairs 6 feet apart. A few had met, but most didn't know each other. Under the ominous cloud of the coronavirus, our neighbors were hungry to meet each other, to talk and to share.
The group included a widow in her 70s, two young couples in their 20s, a couple in their 30s recently moved from Philadelphia, and a couple in their late 40s recently married and adjusting to a blended family. My wife and I married more than 50 years ago.
The gathering was not somber. There was much laughter. One couple brought gifts of toilet paper with a card: “Just a little something to show that we got your back.”
But there was a serious undercurrent, not knowing what comes next. We each introduced ourselves and shared how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting us and our families. At the end, I led the group in prayer.
We're praying for the people of the world. We're all in this together. The pain and suffering include Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America. We're praying for the sick and the dying, and for those who have lost loved ones. We're concerned for first responders, for our medical professionals, for the elderly and the weak. We're praying for students whose studies have been disrupted, whose classes have been canceled. We're burdened for those who are suffering economic disaster, for hourly workers, minimum-wage employees, those who live week to week, who cannot pay their rent next month or afford food for their children.
We're discovering in this crisis that the place to which we can turn is to God and to one another. We're discovering that more than big government, more than money, we need people. We need our families, we need our neighbors and we need God. Instead of seeing a society implode in anger and frustration and chaos, we're watching people step up to stand in the gap. We're looking for ways to encourage one another, to support each other. We want to help.
Jesus taught us this amazing truth about human nature centuries ago when an arrogant young lawyer asked him, “Who is my neighbor?” He replied by telling the story of the good Samaritan. Across the ages in every culture where the message of Christ has been told, that story has enabled people to overcome and withstand the most severe catastrophes. Instead of “passing by on the other side,” instead of just thinking about ourselves and our own concerns, we must stop and help just one, somebody for whom we can make a difference.
One of my neighbors reminded me that often Jesus stopped to help just one. That’s what we need to do. That is what we each can do, like the good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37).