When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers to many of us, in reality the Reverend Mister Fred Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister) helped generations of Americans to think more about our neighbors and how we treat them through his long-running public broadcasting children’s show. Jesus included love for our neighbors in one of his most famous responses. We know who our neighbors are supposed to be, and how we are intended to treat them. But do we pay attention, often enough, to our neighbors?
In the Worshipbook (jointly published in the early 1970’s by The Cumberland Presbyterian Church, The PCUS, and The United Presbyterian Church), we find this prayer “For Those We May Forget in Prayer.” In pausing before God in this prayer, we may be prompted to remember some neglected neighbor. And maybe having them brought to mind will give us some ideas on how to love them today as we love ourselves.
We do not know how to pray, O God, unless Your Spirit guides us. Help us to pray for neighbors on earth, who wait for us to care, whose needs we have neglected, whose names we do not know. Make us want to know and name and care. Through our prayers draw us toward the forgotten men and women, who are children of Your love and our sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ, the Lord of all. Amen.