Who are the people in your neighborhood?

I woke up this morning humming this childhood song in my heart…

Who are the people in your neighbourhood?
In your neighbourhood
In your neigh—bor–hood
Who are the people in neighbourhood
The people that you see
Walking down the street
The people that you meet each day.

That song takes me back to my days of watching Sesame street as a child and to my present reality.

As we have intentionally moved into a new neighborhood we have been presently surprised with who God has brought into our lives in such a few short weeks. A neighbourhood to us is that place where we can get to know people in how we live our real lives while we share space together, borrow tools and potentially share some life together. It is the people that you see each day, in every season of the year, as you share common space and surroundings.

Neighbors are the people unknowingly brought into our lives that we choose to know and connect to because they are there. Unlike friends that we choose and select out of some common interest or experience, neighbors share common space and surroundings as a starting point.

Neighboring (a new word I am entering into the common language) is about blooming where we are planted. It is about believing the Kingdom of God is at work around us, in our life, right where we live or work or play. We can live in our neighborhoods with the expectation of God’s kingdom to be active and at work. It is the most natural place to live and be real as home is where we are truly who we are. It is there our faith is most real and tested.

Let me tell you about our new neighborhood. It is 2 years old and full of young families from many nations. The first day I arrived I had one of the mom’s with 4 children under 10 come over and introduce herself, share about who all lives around here and then say to me with a smile “you have big shoes to fill in this cul-de-sac… your former owners were the neighbourhood patriarchs”. Meaning they were the community hub. Sweet, I thought to myself. On my second day here I was working in my garage when my next door neighbour came over with a ladder as he saw me struggling to get higher. He walked up to me and said, “use my ladder anytime, it is just inside the garage door, that is what neighbors are for.”

We have met and know the names of seven families in our neighbours at this point. We have moved into a multi-cultural cul-de-sac and area. Next door are our new friends from the Philippines. They are very sweet, kind and friendly. The next few doors are some young Caucasian families with children Brianna’s age. Maryanne has already taken a handful of kids to the park to help other moms and then come home to home bread on the porch as a thank you! Next to those people is a sweet and open family from Taiwan with 2 teenage boys. Next to them another young couple without kids. Across the street is a family from Jamaica and adjoining our back yard is two Chinese families side by side. And beside them is the family from Afghanistan.

One of the chinese families is fast becoming our friends. They are a young couple, where he grew up here and she came from Hong Kong as a teenager. Together we have already spent hours building a fence, sharing stories and food. We are planning to go to their house for Dim sum soon. How fun is that!

Who are the people in my neighbourhood? Or as Jesus said it, “Who is my neighbour?” Who should I show interest in their lives and let them in my life? Because where we live and who we live with is our greatest ministry (though I don’t like that word). We are excited to see what God does with the people that we meet each day…!

Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on August 27, 2011.

2 Responses to “Who are the people in your neighborhood?”

  1. I am or should I say that I make myself so busy that the thought of meeting my nieghbours with any significance scares me . . .
    I do take the time to chat or lend a hand when asked, but I am sure my nieghbours see me as too busy and do not want to bother me. . . .
    The question should be – do I lend a hand when not asked?
    The degree to which we understand our neighbours is the degree to which we understand and direct our attention outside our neighbourhood. At least I think this is what Jesus is saying?

    I would love to see a statistic in this area, but I would hazard to guess that: we spend 80% of our time working; we spend 10% of our time trying to carve out time for ourselves; and we are above average if we spend the remaining 10% with our families at home in our neighbourhood. Is there any wonder divorse rates are continuing to rise and ” Good Fences Make Good Neighbours” . . . and the ground swells up from under it.
    – Jim Bishop

  2. “Neighboring” I like that ~

    Reading this post took me back to my childhood, growing up on a block where there were no less than 10 sets of parents – constantly keeping an eye on every child there, and never hesistating to step in “my” parent’s role of making sure I minded, if I found myself going beyond the boundries my mom & dad set (and made sure everybody ELSE knew as well!)…

    I miss that connection ~ that safety net we grumbled against whenever we were caught, but still, that sense of security myself and my childhood friends grew up with is something I looked for when my husband & I choose our first home in a small community (and yes, my boys did the same “grumbling” I did when Miss Nancy, or Mr. Bob informed me of what my little blessings were doing out of my range of vision.

    The day when my husband died, I saw in action, that sense of neighboring, that bond of knitting together people with very little in common on the surface – other than shaing a geographic space, but yet there was a real sense of caring and compassion that still exists today. Yes it’s scary to be “real” – and trust me, neighbors know “real”. As one who professes to have relationship with a living Christ, that day-to-day living we all do, hits a different dynamic in that I represent Him to my neighbors. Does my life draw or repel? Does my walk match my talk?

    Thank you for this post, it reminded me that I have a wealth of opportunities living in my midst.
    ~Meredith Miller

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