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Thursday, December 15, 2011

eating with the neighborhood

In the past eight days, two significant neighborhood encounters occurred.  Both could easily have slipped by unnoticed, but I think the persistent focus on being the church outside the walls has sharpened my eyesight a little.

The first encounter came eight days ago on a Wednesday.  That morning we got a call in the office from a neighbor who had seen on our church sign that we had a Wednesday night dinner and wondered if he could come get some food for himself and his sick wife, who was housebound.  I think he thought we were offering meals for sale - he asked a question along those lines.  But the person taking the call said it was a potluck, and neighbors visiting were not expected to bring food, and he should just come on and join us.  Well, sure enough, he came that night.  We invited him to sit and eat with us before taking the plate home to his wife, but he wanted to get back to her.  So we visited in a line for a few minutes.  He lived nearby and simply noticed our sign.

What stood out to me is that he would venture inside a church full of people he didn't know to accept food that was "family meal" style.  I don't think this would have happened even two or three years ago.  I think that we have been spending so much time out in our neighborhood, including HIS immediate neighborhood, that he perceived us as safe, friendly, and helpful - worth calling and visiting to help out his wife.  It was a subtle interaction, and I don't think we have yet grasped the significance of it; but I'm pretty sure it was significant in our growth as a church for the neighborhood.

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