One of the great things about having a dog is that, whatever the weather you have to go out for a walk. Although there are some days when even our Bernese Mountain dog, Lottie, thinks that the rain is too unpleasant to go out. But what I love when I am out in the morning is seeing other people’s day unfold.
As I walk past shops there are often people who are getting ready for the day’s business. There are the butchers and the bakers, then there are others cleaning floors and filling up shelves, making deliveries etc. There are often people hurrying along to get the train or the bus and then there others who are oblivious to what is going on around them as they are listening to something in their ears.
In addition, there are numerous other dog walkers and those whose living is spent in the outdoors. The two guys who work for the East Riding Council and deal with all the bins in town are two of the cheeriest people I meet in a morning. They are always upbeat and friendly, whatever the weather, making our streets clean and tidy.
Now in the Middle East a dog does not have quite the same level of affection as here in Britain so I suspect that in Jesus’ time you would not have found him out walking a dog but one thing we do know was that he was often found where the people were. Yes, he was Jewish and so would have spent time in the temple but much of his time was out meeting people where they were and engaging with them. They did not always like what he had to say because it often meant people facing up to who they were and doing something to change themselves.
Yet, he was always trying to build relationships with people because when we have a relationship with people we can talk honestly with them and they will listen because a sense of trust has developed.
That is why, when Jesus was asked to summarise the message he said that it was ‘to love God and to love our neighbour’. Effectively, he was saying that the two key relationships were firstly, with God and secondly, with those who need our help.
The parable of the Good Samaritan was given to explain just this point.
So, I would like to encourage you to reflect on that call, the central call of Christianity, ‘to love God and love your neighbour’.
Church can help build that first relationship and that you may find as difficult as some did who encountered Jesus while he was on this earth.
The second part is perhaps a little bit easier. But I encourage you to build your relationships because then, as with God, you will truly know the person, your neighbour.
By the Vicar of Driffield,
The Rev Andrew Ison