Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Love Thy Neighbor?

We have lived in our current house for more than 15 years. During that time we have tried to be decent neighbors - not too loud, keep the yard neat, chat on the sidewalk when we happen to see each other, even mowed one neighbor's yard several times one summer when her leg was in a cast. We have attended several of the annual block parties. But for the most part we have kept to ourselves - not unfriendly, just preoccupied with our own busy lives.

Over the past year or so we have made an intentional effort to actually get to know the people in our neighborhood. For the past few years I have thought about Skillman reaching out to and getting involved with the local community, but I was not doing that in my own neighborhood. It is hard to love your neighbors when you don't make any effort to really acknowledge their existence.

One of the families on our street has taken the initiative to organize monthly meetings to plan activities, share neighborhood news, and just spend some time getting to know one another. We have made it a point to attend these meetings when we can and to participate in the planned activities - a multicultural dinner, a New Year's Brunch, etc.

On St. Patrick's Day we hosted a neighborhood party with about 18 of our neighbors. I'm embarrassed to say that it was the first time any of them had spent any time in our home - some had been inside the front door or sat on our porch, but none had been in our home for a meal or any other extended time. It was an enjoyable time of food and fellowship. And we will not let another 15 years pass before we have our neighbors in our home.

We spent a little time talking about the story of St. Patrick. Barbara pointed out that when Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary he embraced the Irish culture and symbolism to allow Christianity to speak to the Irish in a way that was relevant to them. Not a bad lesson for us today.

1 comment:

Nathan said...

In late 2004 a young lady down the street had thought an older recluse lived in our home. This woman, not a person belonging to a church or other faith group, had made regular visits to the two widows across from my house. She at the same time wanted to know if she could help anyone in need at church. She asked if we ha d a program to help the less fortunate not just at the approaching holidays but something year round. Needless to say I was stunned. My busy life barley affords me time to knock on the diabetic's door next to our home.

I think a huge step in Skillman's desire to be missional is to be this where we live. We come to the table wanting to do better as a church all the while knowing that what we need is priority reearrangement.