The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Who is my neighbour?
In our Church we are part of a Sunday School class of mostly thirtysomethings. The class chose the name "Homebuilders" when it was first formed just over a year ago. It is a class made up of mostly married couples, with a few single parents who don't fit in any other class. We are a very eclectic mix of people, and most were already adults before they were saved. My husband and I are the only non-parents in our class, at the moment. (We are working on rectifying that one.) Yesterday we had a very interesting discussion about the need to be looking out for each other. We have been looking into the life of the early Churches, as found in Acts, and what they can teach us about how we should be living. The sense of community that was found from the very first day after Pentecost is a very stark contrast to what we have here in South Florida in the 21st Century.
I grew up with a model of community that had more in common with the first century Churches, that with my current experience. Everybody knew their neighbours, not just to say "hello," but really knew them. No house was locked up, except if no-one was home. Everyone shared when they had plenty, and when they had little. Celebrations were joined by everyone. Times of mourning were also community events.
I remember my seventh birthday. A few cousins were visiting for the day and their mum had planned to have a small family celebration of my birthday. That didn't happen. Every child who played with us that day, that is every child in the neighbourhood who was at home, joined us for birthday cake. It is one of my favourite birthday memories. No organised party. No mountain of presents. Just a simple cake and a few extra treats, and lots of friends to help celebrate. It was the late seventies in Scotland, nobody had much of anything, yet we were amongst the wealthiest people in the world because we had each other.
My husband and I now live in a small neighbourhood within a "small town" yet we only know our neighbours to say "hello." It is a new neighbourhood, and Rob was the first person to move in, so everyone is new here. Even in our Church it is proving more difficult to build relationships that I first anticipated. Everyone seems to live in their own little world. There is no time for outside relationships. Yet at the same time, these same people can be heard to complain of feeling alone and isolated. Nobody cares about them. Everyone is too busy. Everybody works. I have moved to the most affluent country in the world, yet the people I meet are the poorest I have ever met when it comes to relationships and community.
Then yesterday our class began to discuss this very issue. We cannot be who we are chosen to be as God's children if we are not reaching out and making a community. We need to make time to build relationships. We need to be in each other's lives throughout the week. We need to know what is happening in each other's lives if we are going to truly be a help and blessing. For me this happens through opening our homes. It is in our homes that we build relationships. It is in our homes we establish community. Opening our homes in hospitality is opening ourselves to other souls. Sometimes we minister to them, but often they minister to us.
Who is my neighbour? Who should I be building community with. For me it is everyone that the Lord brings across my path. It is the members of our Sunday School class. It is the neighbour across the street, who has never heard the gospel. It is the friend across the seas I can offer encouragement to. My neighbour is every person it takes to build a community. I am challenged to step further out into the unknown, to show myself as a neighbour and begin building a new sense of community right here where I live right now.