This weekend is one in which my family has always enjoyed gathering around table, making and sharing ice cream in the backyard, and celebrating birthdays. It’s time for our annual 4th of July celebration!
Dad will celebrate 97 years as we invite our immediate neighbors to a front yard walk-in. We have discovered that with this hot summer most of our neighbors are out in their yards and walking around at 9:00 pm. So Dad has decided to stay up and help us greet the new neighbors. Laura has handed out invitations and is preparing the outdoor table. I guess my part will be the ice cream.
Making the ice cream is one of my fondest memories of our 4th of July family reunions in Kerrville. Sid and Dott Harris welcomed their family and hosted an annual event to celebrate at least five birthdays. And I remember helping my G-Daddy make the ice cream. The best part was hearing his stories about his childhood, his early years, and what he remembered. He also was prone to telling me (and all of us) about his dreams. The ones about what he hoped for in his family heirs. The hope that the grandkids and their kids would enjoy a life even more joyful and grace-filled than the one he had known.
Now to the point. It’s about Inter-dependence. You see, when I celebrate the 4th of July as a citizen of this great land, I remember that the independence from tyranny can only be sustained when I take part in the connection of family, new neighbors, and Faith communities. I am literally Inter-dependent with you as together we strive for a life that gives the opportunities of freedom to all.
Freedom is a tricky word. So I do not use it much. Rather, I choose words like peace. I think that if we were all to share peace, like the Hebrew Shalom and the Ancient Greeting “Peace be with you!”, well, then we might remember how important freedom can be for all persons.
This Sunday, we will tell the biblical story from Luke 10 about Jesus sending 70 persons ahead of him in mission as they journeyed through Samaria toward their eventual destination of Jerusalem. Jesus and his band of followers ventured through a neighborhood that had been labeled as outcast and his command to each of those sent was to proclaim peace. Simply put, they were to announce that family and neighboring harmony could once again be possible because the Messiah was near.
I cannot predict which story my Dad will choose to tell outside sharing ice cream with our new neighbors this weekend. But I can guess that it will be one from his family history and his ministry with people across this land. It most assuredly will contain a word of peace. That is what G-Daddy left for us to share. Peace is of the utmost importance in the message we so desperately need to speak and to hear.
Shalom. Peace be with you!
Along the Way
The neighborhood greeter I will call K brought these over last evening just to say, “I hope you enjoy living here.”
And I was beginning to develop strategies for neighboring as a new pastor in the neighborhood. A child brought me flowers, smiled, and said simply Welcome Home.
Author: Paul E Harris
Journal posts from a pastor and spiritual friend