OF FAITH AND FABLES

By Bob Haynes

It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

 

Ever since my young adult days, the children in our neighborhood and in our church all called me “Mr. Bob.” I don’t know why but that name followed me from place to place and now my grandchildren have taken up the same greeting, “Mr. Bob.”

My wife used to say it was because I reminded them of Mister Roberts – a good guess except the children of today don’t even know who he was. When my children were little, one of their favorites (mine too) television shows was Mister Roberts. I know it sounds corny, but I loved to hear the opening song of that show. Maybe you remember it: “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? So let’s make the most of this beautiful day.”

What you might not have remembered were these words that also went with that song: “I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you. So let’s make the most of this beautiful day: since we’re together we might as well say, would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?”

The simplicity of Mister Roger’s demeanor, even through the medium of television, as he put on his cardigan sweater to sit and talk with children all around this country stays with my children through this day, even though they are grown women with children of their own.

Through the years I have come to the realization that there is more to the definition of “neighbor” and “neighborhood” than meets the eye. I know now that neighbors and neighborhoods can reach out over significantly long distances, even continents. For me, I am so blessed to have a number of really “neat” folks I call friends and neighbors. People who love me and who I love as well. They are the ones who call sometimes “Just to check up on you,” as one says… they are also ones who go way out of their way to be helpful.

Years ago, a Pharisee came to Jesus with a question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Another famous story about “neighbors” is found in the Book of Luke when he described the parable of the Good Samaritan. At the end of the story when Jesus had described the actions of a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan, Jesus asked: “Which of the three do you think was a neighbor to the man? The answer given by the lawyer was “The one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus replied, “Go and do likewise.”

Lieth Anderson, author of the book “Making friends with God” described the impact of Jesus’ reply   in this way: “With that story, Jesus changed the definition of a neighbor from who that person is to what I do in relationship to other people.” Anderson continued by saying: “The issue is not whether a person is a Jew or a Gentile or a Samaritan; black, brown or white, rich or poor, a good guy or a bad guy… it’s what I do to help others. Not who they are or what they do. The difference is both astonishing and transforming.” Just a thought! Shalom!

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