In our busy lives, interactions with our neighbours are often limited to a quick hello and a wave as they drive past – and that’s if we see them at all. Today, be intentional about the people who live round you. Make a point of going outside when you see others about. Conversation by conversation you can change the atmosphere in your street.
Green: Say hello to everyone you see on your street today, introducing yourself by name if you recognise them as a neighbour you’ve not spoken to before.
Amber: Go on a prayer walk up and down each side, teaming up with a friend or neighbour for support. Pause at each house when God prompts you to.
Red: Organise an event that gets your whole street or block of flats involved.
ATTENTION: We understand that in light of current circumstances, this act suggestion may not be appropriate where you are.
If that is the case, you can still take part!
Why not join your neighbourhood Facebook group, or start a WhatsApp group for your street to see how you could respond to the needs of those around you. It might be a good way for neighbours to feel connected in the event that you can’t physically stay in touch.
‘Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”’ (Luke 5:29–30 NIV)
I confess to having had a dose of street envy as a young mum. I fancied the idea of being able to let my kids play out with others on the street and even having the odd street party. Such dreams can be dented when living on a road where the average speed zaps in at 50mph. So what to do once you’ve got the speed bumps installed?
When our neighbours who had generously offered their home for Christmas drinks for 15 years left the road, we took the baton. We started going from door to door, sometimes in the summer, sometimes at Christmas, inviting everyone to come to ours to make a party for the whole street. Some of our overtures were not always greeted with warmth and delight. We even had one response which I’m afraid might have some connection with putting the invitation where the sun doesn’t shine – but thankfully that was the minority!
So why do this? We wondered if building community looks like a kaleidoscope of possibilities and this was just one of those possibilities. Community builds relationship and relationship, community. Where there is relationship, we can connect with our neighbours – as well as sharing great food! There are multiple occasions in the Gospels where Jesus is sharing meals – not just with friends he knew well, but strangers and people looked down on by others. It was a way for him to connect with a whole variety of people.
One of the amazing things about living in London is that your neighbours come from all over the globe – so when you invite them to bring a dish from their culture, you get the most extraordinary spread imaginable. You might think that baklava doesn’t go with fattoush, or brownie and meringues with gravadlax, but trust me, when someone else is making their ‘home’ speciality, it’s pure delicious magic.
I’m now a middle-aged granny and I love our street because, although I can’t play football on it, when I come out of my door, I see neighbours and we wave and shout across the speed bumps and we know each other at least to say hello to. It feels like home.
Caroline loves her work as a counsellor, particularly with children, young people and their families. As well as baking and eating cakes, she enjoys lots of outdoor activities. She is particularly devoted to her two-year-old grandson who thinks she is four years old.
As well as being a committed Christian, she is a committed feminist – until she has to stand on the Tube or lay a trap for a rodent.
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