"No matter what, make room in your heart to love..." (Hebrews 13:1)
This Sunday, we start a series on neighboring. Yes, we are making the word "neighbor" into a verb. Pastor Mindie is the brainchild behind this idea. She felt in these early days of starting Midtown, we should revisit this series from six years ago and inject in the DNA of the community the importance of reaching out to those around us. I needed a little convincing. I'm always hesitant to do sequels, but I will share with you Sunday morning what changed my mind.
Something else that impacted my thinking was Cinco de Mayo, obviously Spanish for "Fifth of May," sort of like "Fourth of July." It commemorates an important battle in Mexico in 1862 that eventually led to their liberation from French control under Napolean III. But this is not Mexico's Day of Independence like our July 4th. That goes back to 1810 when Mexico was liberated from Spain.
So I'm not sure how the whole Cinco de Mayo thing started. Some say in California. It's a bigger deal here than Mexico. My guess is Mexican beer makers got the idea. Beer sales today compete with the Super Bowl! (Can you say, "Ole, ole, ole!!")
So if you are celebrating in some way today, perhaps between your chimichanga and tres leches, you might consider the growing influence of Hispanic Latino culture in America. This population of people has represented the largest percentage of growth in America, now 1/5 of the country. Besides the increase in Spanish language resources, Mexican restaurants, and Dos Equis, I want to consider another powerful influence this population increase has brought.
Sarah.jpgWhen I met my wife, Susan, she lived in Dallas, TX, where her sister Sarah was the director of the Wesley Rankin Center, a community center in West Dallas started by the United Methodist Women of the North Texas Conference. The center served a predominantly Mexican-American population. Sarah said one of the most profound influences of this culture she observed when going there was the commitment to family and community. "The neighborhood was literally your family," she said.
She recalls one of the first "fiesta" celebrations they hosted. She was blown away by the turnout. It felt to her like everyone in all the surrounding neighborhoods came. The workers at the center made chicken into different dishes, and as everyone who attended knew, they brought other items to fill out a meal. Sarah kept watching scores of folks come, and she worried they wouldn't have enough. Then one of the women at the center said, "Relax! We do this all the time. We look out for each other, and there is always room for one more."
In her time at Wesley Rankin, Sarah experienced a level of community unlike anywhere else. People did look out for each other. Neighbors took care of each other. They protected one another. They also corrected one another when it was called for. And as she learned again and again, there was always room for one more.
So as we think about neighboring, consider today what it means to live with a spirit in our hearts to always keep room for one more, and we will keep thinking about this idea on Sunday.
Happy Cinco de Mayo,