July 3, 2017

How To Be A Neighbor

This past weekend I went out with a group from my parish to serve with 249 & Hope, a ministry for and with our brothers and sisters living along the local highway. This was my first time to go along with the group, and I was struck by the question the ministry leader asked me. “What are we going to learn today?”

I didn’t have an answer.

Too often, I think the church goes out into its neighborhood to solve problems. Let’s feed the homeless, or tutor in the local school, or visit the sick and lonely. These are all good things that we, as Christians, should do! But we don’t do them because we can provide solutions to other people’s problems.

Instead, we should do them - we should seek to be with our neighbors - because God created us to live, work, serve, and learn in community. Not just the community we hand pick because it has the best music or the funniest sermons; rather, the community we are a part of simply because we live there.

As we live, work, serve, and learn in community, we should begin to see the ways in which others teach (and serve) us. We should ask ourselves the question the ministry leader asked me this past Saturday: What are we going to learn today?

Put another way, “What does God want to teach us?”

Henri Nouwen, in his book Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, says, “People we meet, some great in the eyes of the world and some almost invisible to the larger society, are often conduits of God’s wisdom.”

So how can we learn to better receive, listen, and learn from those around us? How can we start to hear God through the people we serve?