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?
This week is all about being great neighbours, particularly by showing compassion. But what does it look like to show compassion for our neighbours?
Start at the beginning of this series. We started with knowing names, then learning stories as acquaintances. Those two things help us to know the needs of our neighbours. Then we can find ways to help – near or far.
When someone near you has a new baby, we know they’ll be hungry and having a hard time cooking – maybe you can feed them for a day. Or further from home, perhaps you can donate to the food banks at the Salvation Army or St. Paul’s on the Hill in Pickering.
When you walk by a homeless person in a heatwave, they are probably thirsty, perhaps you can offer to buy them a bottle of Gatorade or water. Sit down with them as they drink it. Or further from home, perhaps you can support water well drilling abroad.
When we see someone lonely in a room, standing alone, we can at least introduce ourselves, and help them get acquainted. Or when someone moves to the neighbourhood, welcome them! Further afield, maybe you can volunteer with a local service to immigrants, or an ESL class.
When we know someone can’t afford new clothes that fit, we can share our own, or go on a Value Village spree with them. Or if you have clothes but don’t know who needs them, don’t wait for a garage sale, instead donate them to the Goodwill or Salvation Army thrift shop.
When someone is going through cancer treatment, or another illness, perhaps we can shovel or cut grass. Or if you don’t know someone personally, the Cancer Society always needs volunteers who can drive people to appointments.
Finally, if you know someone in prison, perhaps you can visit them and make it clear you care for them as a human being loved by God. Or if you don’t know someone in that situation, you could support a prison fellowship or another ministry to those who are incarcerated.
Whatever you start with, it’s a part of our calling as followers of Jesus to recognize his beloved creatures in trouble and show compassion.
It’s not about earning some reward – it’s simply part of kingdomliness, which is a reward in and of itself.
Challenge: In yesterday’s exercise, who of these six people in need did you say was hardest and easiest to show compassion for? Plan a practical way to help the needs of both this week – either directly to someone near you, or indirectly as we’ve suggested.