Good Fences

Dear Rose Park,

Good fences make good neighbors

This is a line from Robert Frost’s poem entitled Mending Wall and it seems just as appropriate for today as it did when it was written in 1914. When I read this poem, and particularly that line, I read it as meaning neighbors are fine as long as they are kept at a distance. In other words, fences might do a lot of great things; they might keep our animals safe and they might even protect us, but they certainly don’t make good neighbors.

I had lunch with AJ Westendorp yesterday at Firehouse Subs. AJ is one of the key leaders at our mission partner, Escape Ministries. One of Escape’s goals is to work with young people who have gotten into some trouble by offering job programs, educational training, and mentoring. AJ and his team are dedicated individuals who love their students and desire to see them succeed in all pathways of life. I had a great conversation with AJ and we talked about how our partnership can grow and our communities could flourish. But none of that can happen if we keep each other at a distance. None of that can happen if we stay on opposite sides of a fence.

If our desire and vision for the church is to connect the disconnected, empower the connected, and reconcile all things to God then we must be willing to tear down the fence and establish relationships with those around us. Of course, this is much easier said than done because establishing relationships with those who are different than us is hard work. It takes patience and understanding to move past the awkwardness, the discomfort, the risk, and even the fear of getting to know someone. But, then again fences don’t make good neighbors, fences keep people apart.

This is all to say, I hope and pray we can tear down the fences in our lives and journey into the unknown to establish relationships rooted in the love of Jesus and the Church. This task isn’t isolated for only a chosen few either, it’s a hope for the entire church. Regardless of age, gender, or circumstance by the power of the Holy Spirit we can all tear down a few fences and become united through Christ.

Fences are good for a lot of things, but they don’t make good neighbors.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Mark