Love comes to town, I’m gonna jump that train
When love comes to town, I’m gonna catch that flame
This is one of my favorite pictures I took while in Uganda. It’s an expression of love. In Uganda it is not uncommon for men to hold hands with other men or for women to hold hands with other women. It says something loudly, boldly. There’s nothing sexual about it, but it is a proclamation.
Without any words at all, while walking along at the care point, a little hand reached in and entertwined fingers with mine. I looked down. He looked up. We didn’t say a word but just kept walking. Together. Hand in hand. When Noah took my hand he was saying something. He was telling me he wanted to be WITH me, that BEING together was important. We didn’t have to do anything. We walked and held hands.
In Uganda I learned that touch and presence are important. That just being with is more than doing for.
Jesus commands us to love one another. He prayed that we would be one. In fact, Jesus sums up ALL of the law and the prophets with these words in Matthew 22:
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.
It’s pretty easy to love Noah. Look at him. Right. That’s a face that just screams “squeeze me!” Those are eyes that let him get away with all kinds of mischief. He has a heart that is tender and precious. It’s easy to love Noah.
It isn’t always easy to love our neighbor. Our neighbor isn’t always cute. Our neighbor isn’t always who we choose to be friends with. Our neighbor isn’t always gentle and kind. But then, neither are we.
And yet, there is the clarion call of the Gospel. Love your neighbor. Who will you love with your presence? Who will you go out of your way to just be with? Who will you love – just because?
Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners. And in his process of discipleship, Jesus taught the twelve, and us, that we are to be friends – with people like us and people not like us.
Will you catch that train with me?