In our last Silverton Friends Together, I challenged you to think about what it means to be “Spiritually Formed in Your Neighborhood.” I would like to continue these thoughts in a follow–up article. My hope is that you will utilize the queries included to help you begin processing the ways you are being spiritually formed in your place.
Our busyness determines a great deal. If we are to engage our neighborhood and seek the spiritual benefits, we are going to need to spend some time there. Sabbath should be a key aspect of our neighborhoods. We should find time to rest well together and re-create in what gives us life. Take a moment to ponder these queries:
When do you go to work? (Who in your neighborhood leaves at the same time?) When do you return? (Who in your neighborhood comes home at the same time) When does your neighborhood seem the most active? What do people in your neighborhood do on the weekends? What is Sabbath to your neighborhood?
“Keeping up with the Joneses” may look very different from neighborhood to neighborhood. For some it may be coveting the new car a neighbor drives, or the new fence they put up that doesn’t allow one to see what they are doing, or the new pool that is the envy of the town. It could be a myriad of things. What we know is that it sets a socio-economic bar for the neighborhood. Take a moment to ponder these queries:
What are the specific things that people covet in your neighborhood? How do those who are struggling with “keeping up with the Joneses” see their neighborhood? What about single parents? The retired? The empty nesters?
Most likely, how we see our own home, determines how we see our neighbors and our neighborhood. If I see my own home as a “protected castle” then my view of my neighbors may be the same. A neighborhood of castles could create an interesting neighborhood environment. It may even cause people to be “at war” with each other – trying to outdo one another with finely manicured lawns, extra garages and storage, or by obtaining prime property. We all know of people who live with “walls and motes” and who seem held up in their house prisons.
Who in your neighborhood lives closed-up in a castle-like existence? What are the “walls and motes” in your neighborhood?
We could also see our homes as simply a “resting place” or “pit stop.” For some, the majority of life is spent at work. Home is only a place to lay one’s head at night to prepare for the next day. Life is too fast paced for much more. If we live like this, then our neighborhoods become simply a place to stop, crash, and brew the next day’s coffee as one heads out the door.
Who in your neighborhood simply makes a “pit-stop” and never seems to be home? Why are those neighbors always on the go? Trying to make ends meet? Keeping up with the Joneses? Trying to simply survive?
The analogies are endless. The important thing is to take a moment to process how you view your home and then challenge yourself to inquire about the other people in your neighborhood. Finally, we come down to the most important discussion – Is God present in my home and my neighborhood? If for you, God is only present at certain times, then you may find it difficult to see God present in your home or neighborhood. Many people live a dual life. God is present at church on Sunday and then they leave Him there until the next Sunday. Yet, when we begin to see our homes as sacred places, our neighborhoods become transformed as well. If each of us makes up the body of Christ, the Church, then our neighborhoods can be seen as places where we meet the present Christ TOGETHER.
Where do you, or have you, seen God present in your neighborhood? How is your neighborhood a “sacred place”? or how could it be? How do you embody Christ to your neighborhood?
My prayer is that our Church building is not the only place people are experiencing the present Christ. As you work through these queries with your families and possibly your neighbors, take some time to see our “place” in a new way. You may find the Kingdom of God right outside your door – literally! Grace and peace, Pastor Bob+