You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
James 2:8 (NRSV)
From the time my children were old enough to talk, when they told me, “I love you, Mama,” I would say, “I love you more.” Sometimes they would respond with an amount. “I love you a million times more.” I would respond with a bigger amount. Usually I would win in the end, or someone would run out of bigger numbers. Once, joking with my youngest, I said, “You love me that much, huh? Do you love me more than chocolate?” That stopped her in her tracks. She loved me a “million, billion, trillion more.” However, she really liked chocolate. We laughed, and I promised I would never make her choose between me and chocolate.
In James 2, we are reminded of the call to “love your neighbor.” That part is easy. Most of us can muster up some sort of love. How much do we love our neighbors? That is much harder. Do we love our neighbors as much as ourselves? Do we love our neighbors as much as we love our beloved family and friends? Is it even possible to love our neighbors as much as chocolate?
One place where we put our love into action is by donating to our food pantry at Carmel United Methodist Church. The food pantry is open many days a week, and serves 10-20 families every time it is open! Most of us can find a can or two that we might not want anyway. Food pantries receive large quantities of cans of food no one wanted, like beets or spinach. The food pantry throws out a large amount of food that is expired because people cleared out their cupboards and gave what they did not want. Some food is better than nothing, right? Yet, James doesn’t ask for our leftover love. What kind of food would you serve to your own family? What food would you eat yourself? That is the kind of love we should be giving. Food pantries are limited by what is donated. Often families who are served by the food pantry are stuck with what no one else wants. Healthy fruits, milk, cheese, and meat are a luxury. Imagine trying to make a meal out of beans and spinach?
At the Carmel UMC food pantry we have a number of volunteer “shoppers” who use monetary donations to purchase healthy food like milk, meat, veggies, eggs, and cereal. If you are looking to donate food items, there is often a shortage of peanut butter and cereal. All donations can be left in the donation closet at the Mission House, which is open 24 hours a day. Other food items are always welcome. If you donate something else, you might ask yourself, “Would I eat this myself, or serve this to my family?”
May we all find ways to love others as much as we love ourselves… or chocolate. I pray God’s blessings upon you all in the coming week!
Pastor Adriane Curtis