Thursday - Act On It - Neighbours to Acquaintances
Time and availability allows us to get acquainted with those near us. You may be discouraged, thinking I’m talking about adding things to your already busy schedule. Sometimes that’s necessary, but usually it’s just about making intentional choices to Love God, Love Neighbour in the midst of daily life.
Think about your downtime – how can downtime connect me with neighbours?
First, be interruptible. I used to have a retired neighbour who was often outside, and always up for a chat. His availability meant I could ask him for a ladder, to get the mail while we were away, etc. My availability to stop and chat meant he could ask me questions about the theology of the church he grew up attending.
You can also make other choices. Stick around on weekends instead of going away. Play in the front yard instead of the back. Putter around your garden, walk the neighbourhood, and read on your porch.
Ask questions, talk about the weather, laugh about something that happened. Ask for referrals – who did your driveway/kitchen/landscaping? Ask about the neighbourhood – how’s X doing? Share something – let someone park in your driveway for a party, or share newspapers.
As you do, get to know their name, and then a bit of their story.
Challenge: Look at your calendar and see how you spend your time over the last two weeks. Reflect on how this compares with your priorities. How can you spend more time with your neighbours, to get acquainted?
Here’s an interesting story from a busy period in Jesus’ life:
And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:21-34 ESV)
See how Jesus was busy, but not so busy he couldn’t give time to a desperate man, or a hurting woman.
He heads off to help Jairus’ daughter, but then is interrupted by a woman in need. He didn’t just brush her off and send her away. No one would have blamed him – who is she to think she can just take some healing from him like a pickpocket? Or maybe she just wants to touch a famous teacher? What gives her the right?
Nor did Jesus anonymously heal her on the spot while walking – you know he could. He stops, he meets her, calls her an affectionate name “daughter” and heals her.
This episode says so much about the value he places in human life – even a female human life, which was regarded quite differently in that time and culture. His willingness to go out of his way, touch an unclean woman, and stop his travels and acknowledge her as a person speaks volumes.
I remember a dilemma like this once – with only a few minutes before I had to lead a church service, someone asked to speak to a pastor. It turned out she was in desperate need of help, and planning to harm herself, and not stopping to speak to her would have been disastrous.
Question: Do you live at a pace that allows you to be present to those around you, particularly your neighbourhood?