Love More People

August 15th was People Appreciation Day. This event on Facebook was created and sponsored by Andy McFly and Mike Morrell. The description on the page reads Here’s an idea whose time has come: Let’s take someone whose life or beliefs are different from yours (an atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, or Christian; someone who’s gay, straight, bi, or trans; a liberal, a conservative; a homeless person, a politician) and share a meal with them. Appreciate them – as people – and listen to their story. What could we learn from People Appreciation Day? Will you invite your friends – and enemies?

I would like to share some of my reflections from this page, the idea behind it, the day, and my hope for more events such as this one.

This page surprised me. It made a stand against all the yelling and screaming and said don’t accentuate all the differences between us but look at the other person as a human being. Like us, but different yet the differences do not have to divide us, but can and should bring us together. Usually we see all the ways we are different and let it come between having an honest dialogue, but we can do something different. We can invite the person unlike us to lunch or dinner and meet them where they are. We can share our life with another and be open to seeing things from their viewpoint. This can only be a good thing.

It was way cool hearing about the ways people took up the challenge of sharing a meal with someone different. Some took a homeless person to lunch or had dinner with an unemployed couple or a Muslim friend or went to Jewish wedding. A host of people did similar things. I really wanted to do something like this, but I didn’t have enough money to take someone to lunch and I had to work this afternoon, so I thought I would spend the day sending out good thoughts and saying hi to as many as I could. Being a cashier at a retail chain store helped with this activity. I like being a cashier because it helps me get out of my shell and converse with all sorts of people. I try not to judge them and think only positive things. To be honest this can be a hard thing to do.

The idea behind this page was to meet a stranger, someone you would normally steer clear away from and share a meal with them. I say this goes back to Jesus and how we ate with sinners and outcasts causing uproar with the religious elite. A shared meal among strangers is one way to say this is how I see God; I see that God is of love, grace, beauty, and unity. It’s a way to circumvent the usual way of living life and living more like Kingdom agents. Sharing a meal is a simple yet powerful way of saying God loves you, yes you! Every time the Eucharist is reenacted we, Christians remember a shared meal that stretches over 2,000 years of counter-cultural subversiveness. The idea is simple yet can be life transforming.

My hope is that we can have more events like this one. Events where a mass of people choose to love than hate, include rather than exclude, help rather than hurt, heal and bless rather than inflict further pain and insult. We can do this in the simplest of actions saying hi, smiling at a stranger we meet on our way, inviting a neighbor to lunch or some other function, listening to someone. By simply being present and available to the person in front of us, we can spread the gospel of grace not merely with words that will be forgotten but with actions that will be remembered.

I believe that God would rather have us love and care for the least among us to stand up for love wherever it blooms and truth no matter where it comes from than defending a fast food owner’s right to spread hate, bigotry, and intolerance. Remember God is one of love, service, grace, beauty, and community.

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