Worship resources: Who is my neighbor?

By Ken Nafziger

“Love your neighbors–not the neighbors you pick out, but the ones you have.”

–Wendell Berry

“People think that there is a country there [and] that these people are only around when they are on CNN… I think Haiti is a place that suffers so much from neglect that people only want to hear about it when it’s at its extreme. And that’s what they end up knowing about it.”

–Edwige Danticat, Haitian author

Haiti, a country slightly smaller than the state of Maryland, and lying a little more than 700 miles from Miami, comes into our consciousness mostly at times of disaster.

Gathering: In the presence of an expansive God

Worship planners could use Sirach 39:12–35 as a shaping passage for the gathering time. It names the basic things necessary to life, questions the importance of human value judg­ments, and gives exuberant praise to the Creator. Follow with lots of singing.

Choose hymns from each of these lists:

HWB 72 When all thy mercies

HWB 167 For God so loved us

HWB 327 Great is thy faithfulness

STJ 6 Jesu tawa pano

STJ 46 Vin pran

STJ 97 The Lord is my light

STS 5 Open my ears, open my eyes

STS 113 I will stand in the congregation

HWB 145 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

HWB 353 Lord, listen to your children praying

Confessing: In the presence of a welcoming God

Prayer and hymn of confession

STS 192 Wind of God, blow far from us . . .

STS 117 How can I say that I love the Lord

Proclaiming: In the Kingdom of God

Luke 10:29b–37: Have someone in the congregation read the story in Creole or French, if possible, as well as English.

Break open this familiar story by shar­ing several brief stories of “one who showed mercy,” drawn from Haitian settings and here as well. After a re­spectful silence following each story, a sung alleluia would be appropriate.

Praying and sending: Repairing and restoring

HWB 395 Here I am, Lord

Reading from Isaiah 58 (full arrangement online)

Is not this the fast that I choose:

to loose the bonds of injustice,

to undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to break every yoke?

A season of intercessory prayer

Sending hymn

HWB 229 Tú has venido a la orilla

Benediction: HWB 769, read in unison

Make a home.

Help to make a community.

Be loyal to what you have made.

Love your neighbors—not the neighbors you pick out, but the ones you have.

Love this miraculous world that is a gift to us.

—Wendell Berry

Ken Nafziger is professor of music at Eastern Mennonite University.

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