Then a tough year came. Crops were not as abundant as they had been. The market was not as profitable. Then it was harvest time.
The married brother thought to himself, “I wonder how my brother is doing with no children and no wife to help him bring in his harvest?” And the single brother thought to himself, “I wonder how my brother and his family will do with a smaller crop than usual?” And they both thought a similar thought.
So, when the harvest was in, one night, the married brother and his children loaded up a cart with wheat and vegetables and in the dark drove to his brother’s house and secretly unloaded the cart into his barn. At the same time, the single brother loaded up his cart with grain and vegetables and traveled to his brother’s house, secretly unloading the cart into his barn. And both brothers thought, “I’m glad I did this. His barn was nowhere near as full as it should have been.”
Imagine each brother’s surprise in the morning when the produce they had removed from their barns was replaced with a like amount! They rejoiced together, and neither brother told what he had done.
In time, a city grew up around the farms, and the farm families moved away. A temple to God was built in the city, in the place where farmland had been, and over the doorway was this inscription: “How pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.”
When the Bible encourages us to live with each other in unity, this is the kind of thing it means – not always thinking the same thoughts, not always living the same kind of life – but keeping watch for one another, and responding to one another with care and justice and kindness. We are encouraged by the scriptures to pay special attention to the needs of the most vulnerable among us, and to help our neighbors.
Our neighbors to the south and west in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania are extremely vulnerable today. As quickly as possible, organizations are setting up supply chains and cash donation sites in order to help—and there are volunteer buses being organized, too, to send helping hands to people who are suddenly homeless and cold and hungry – hoping to make a difference where it is most needed. When we, here in Vermont were at our most vulnerable after Tropical Storm Irene, our American neighbors, our Canadian neighbors, and neighbors from all over the world came to our aid. Now it’s time, even while we’re still recovering, to help our vulnerable neighbors. We were flooded –they are cold. Some of us were homeless—they are without food or heat, living in blue tents.
I encourage you to attend your local place of worship; to hear the call to help our neighbors; and to keep your ears and eyes open for appeals from any worship centers, from the Masons, the Rotary, the Lions Club, for ways in which to help our neighbors in their time of great need. It’s one of the things volunteer organizations do best –already organized and on the ground, they provide trustworthy and direct ways to help—often staffed by volunteers who don’t take a penny or a shoe from the things that are sent.
Our neighbors are vulnerable. And we are needed. And God’s call to each one of us is to be kind and tender-hearted; to offer comfort to others with the same comfort with which we ourselves received comfort.