Being Spiritually Formed in your Neighborhood

silverton-or-4167650As summer quickly approaches, and we begin spending more time around our homes, in our yards, and in our neighborhoods, I want us to begin thinking about where we live and what it has to offer us.

Often our neighborhoods are simply seen as places we dwell, where our home resides, even where we have our own space. Our homes, on the other hand, are often protected spaces – which we want to control, limit, and design ourselves. Yet, outside our doors, on the other side of the fence, around the block, we may find more than other families or individuals walled-up inside their own contained spaces, “castles” or “single family units.”

Our neighborhoods are filled with first and foremost – LIFE. The neighborhood offers more than a place to “hang our hat” when we come home from a long day at work. It has the potential to be a place we are spiritually nurtured and where the Church can make visible the Kingdom of God in the lives of ordinary people.

That means our neighborhoods, if we are willing to allow them, have the possibility of being major factors in our spiritual growth. If you and I want to expand our vision of the place we live, we may first need to see the potential of being spiritually formed in our neighborhoods. This will happen when we allow ourselves to see with new eyes, step outside our front doors, and begin to develop relationships with our neighbors. To do this, we need to begin by acknowledging that our neighborhood is a sacred space.

Christine Sine of Mustard Seed Associates described “sacred space” in this way,

A sacred space is any space that encourages us to step aside from our busyness and distraction of the consumer culture and frees us to take notice of the presence of God.

If our neighborhoods are going to become sacred spaces, we are going to have to find ways to slow down and become more aware of the places we inhabit. That may mean that we will need to do some personal soul searching. Take a moment and answer these queries:

  • What causes me to be so busy?
  • Where am I trying to “keep up with the Joneses”?
  • What does my home represent?
    • a protected castle
    • a commons
    • a resting place
    • a “pit stop”
    • an accomplishment
    • _______________ (fill in)
    • Is God present in my home? In what ways?

I hope this encourages you to think about your neighborhood in a new way. Next month we will continue these thoughts and challenge you to ask some more questions about your neighborhood. For now, let’s commit to becoming more aware of our neighborhoods and all they offer us.

Grace and peace, Pastor Bob+

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