The first is, do you know you neighbors? I recall the Archbishop of Rwanda in our closing plenary session echoing this question as well. He noted how often our days begin with the garage door opening and our pulling out in a flurry and then the garage door opening as we pull in at the end of a day exhausted with little to know interaction with those around us in between. And even when we are home it is far easier to keep to ourselves or pop in headphones to mow the lawn.
Yet, the call of discipleship requires that we don’t keep to ourselves. We cannot do so because of the life we have been given and the love we have found in Christ Jesus. Before such conversations arise, or even before invitations to church events begin, it all starts with relationship. Hence the question, do you know your neighbors? No agenda, no pressure, but do you know their names, the names of those in their family and their pets? Being known is the starting point, because all the rest flows from it.
If your answer is no or not really, then what could you do to change that? Could it begin with a wave and an introduction when coming or going? Perhaps move to a shared cup of lemonade after tackling the lawn or gardening. Maybe it extends to inviting kids to play in your front lawn, or grabbing their mail to walk over to them. It requires a little thought and intentionality doesn’t it?! Some neighbors may already be believers, some may not. Yet these relationships with those literally on either side or across from us serve as a training ground to speak to and love others. Ponder what that could look like in your life, because they lay the foundation for the next question that presses a bit further.
That question is, how do you extend the table? As Christians in an Anglican expression, our worship is one of Word and Sacrament. As we allow the Word of God to permeate our lives and lead us into conversations with others we also bring them into the fellowship of faith which is gathers around the Lord’s table weekly. However, before we ever get them into church we can extend the table to them through our common life. How might we do that? Sometimes it comes as we share meal or BBQ with them. Perhaps through hosting a block party or pot luck. Or even something far simpler. Last summer we set out a folding table, play doh, paper and crayons and had the roaming neighborhood children hang out in our driveway for aa bit with our girls to play. We discovered we could extend the table by baking cookies for new neighbors who moved in and offering to carry in an item or two.
You see, as we extend the table beyond the church through these interactions we help them discover they have a seat in church. All of these lay the foundations for later interactions. The relationships that come through intentionality, time, and prayerful works will then help them find a place to belong long before they hit our doors. So as summer progresses will you prayerfully consider those two questions and your engagement with your neighbors for the sake of the Kingdom?