Matthew 22:34-39 (CEB)

34 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. 35 One of them, a legal expert, tested him. 36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.


Our church members, with the help of neighbors in the community, planted a vegetable garden in July. It was brutally hot, working in the early morning, shoveling dirt and mulch, driving fence posts to keep out deer, planting seeds for a fall harvest. And then the drought hit. Our team leader has years of gardening experience and negotiated all these obstacles like the dedicated gardening pro he is. He had faith we would could garden in a drought. I couldn’t help but wonder, what makes people come out at eight am on a Saturday morning to sweat in ninety plus degree heat, and plant a garden, in a drought? It must be because they love God and love their neighbor as themselves.

The vegetables from the garden will be harvested and made into soup by volunteers and will be given to those in need. The workers have no guarantee of harvest, they don’t know the people who will receive the soup. The youth made colorful plant markers to identify the seeds. One of our workers engraved a wooden sign for the gate that says “Peace Garden.” People tend and will gather to harvest the vegetables and make the soup. Others will deliver the soup to the sick, the hungry, the lonely. The garden will need many people to come help make this happen. We will need to raise money to keep it going. Why will people help with doing all of this work, when their schedules are over loaded and life in general has been tough? It’s because they love God and they love their neighbor. They are a community of love in action.

Love is the reason. Love feeds the hungry, gives water to the thirsty, sees the stranger and gives shelter, provides clothes, cares for the sick, ministers to the incarcerated, and those struggling with addiction and mental health. Love sees with the eyes of Jesus. When we love like Jesus, we  respond to our neighbors’ needs and this is how the world is transformed by God’s love through us.

Thomas Merton, mystic and theologian said, “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone, we find it with another.” Despite a drought, love grows in a community of faith.

by Jeneene Reduker

For Pondering & Prayer

Are you seeing your neighbor with the eyes of Jesus? How can you love others today?

Prayer: Savior Jesus, give us eyes to see our neighbors, love them as ourselves and despite the dry places in our lives, help our love to grow in our community of faith. Amen.