• 48°

‘Do unto others’

My wife and I have been packing up our oldest son for his freshman year at college. He will be attending a small, Methodist college in central Virginia, just north of Richmond. Outside of Methodist circles, some of you may have heard of it, although for some it is “the school which must not be named.” As he joins the long-standing rivalry of Hampden-Sydney College and Randolph-Macon College I am grateful “The Game” will give our son another reason to come home periodically!

As we prepare to send him off, I have reflected anew on our community’s annual influx of new students, both at H-SC and at Longwood. Already, I have seen familiar faces returning. I know we are on the cusp of seeing our incoming freshman class arrive. Each one full of excitement, hope, nervousness and dreams.

Now as a parent, entrusting our son to a college and its surrounding community, I think afresh of our role as neighbors to these young adults. How do I hope my own son is welcomed? How do I hope that he is included and encouraged? I hope others do more than endure him in the pedestrian traffic on their way to work. I hope others engage him as more than a person passing through their town. I hope others take time to see and celebrate who he is. I know I am biased because I am “dad,” but he really is a neat young man. I know because I have watched him and learned from him.

I pray that I can be attentive to the sons and daughters of others who come to live among us. I pray that I can watch and learn from them. Each one is precious and possesses within them innate gifts that are growing. Each one also has the capacity to be reflections of God’s presence and grace to others.

As a person, I am given the opportunity and the responsibility to notice. As a neighbor, I am given the commission to care. As a Christian, I am commanded by no less than Christ himself, to “love my neighbor.” That is not limited in any way by things like gender, race, age or length-of-stay. So, if I have overlooked you somehow, please forgive me. However long we have been neighbors or will be, I am glad we are here together. God bless you.

Rev. Michael Kendall is lead pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. He can be reached at mkendall@farmvilleumc.org.