Be Faithful to Your Place
Bill and I had the opportunity to learn recently from Jonathan Brooks, pastor in a Chicago neighborhood and man who embodies commitment to place and practicing presence in community. (Check out his recent book, Church Forsaken, HERE.)
This morning, take a few minutes to read slowly through the passage that’s been formative for Pastor Brooks, and hear God’s invitation to put deeper roots into your community, however you’ve ended up there, and however long you plan to stay. (Notice God was talking to exiles transplanted to Babylon against their will, and he asks them to become a true part of their new community, even though he’ll be taking them home to Jerusalem eventually.) What could you do today or over the next few days to get to know a neighbor better, or to seek the peace and prosperity of your neighborhood? What if in a week or two you could fill in a few more names on yesterday’s block map? Talk with God about these things.
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Ideas to Spark Your Own
Spend time daily or weekly in a common space (neighborhood park, neighborhood walks, apartment common area, front yard) so conversations with neighbors can happen naturally.
Support local business and get to know the owners and other regular customers.
Sign up for a neighborhood newsletter or social media page.
Find out when the next neighborhood association meeting is & commit to going.
Decide on a loop to walk regularly and pick up trash, chatting with people as you go.
Invite a neighbor you already know a little bit over for dinner or coffee, or out for a drink. Invite them to share their story.
Partner with a neighbor you’re already friendly with to host a neighborhood gathering - from a potluck dinner & game night, to cookies and juice out where all the kids play anyway.
Google a social issue on your heart and your neighborhood (ex. “homelessness Long Beach”) and see where you could volunteer, meeting people and contributing your gifts.
Bonus Thought from Pastor Brooks:
“Can you remain faithful to your place when the only thing changing is you?”