Stewards of Our Neighbors and Our Neighborhood

Summer brings with it a sea change in our neighborhoods. Suddenly, the streets are alive with joggers and baby strollers, the smells of backyard barbecue, and the drone of lawn mowers. As a Christian steward, have you given thought to your responsibility to your neighborhood? We take seriously the scriptural query, “Who is my neighbor?” but do we ever ask, “But what of my neighborhood?” In our grandparents’ era, when many people lived in small towns and escaped the summer heat by sitting on porches in the muggy evenings, neighborliness came with the territory. Everybody knew who was having a baby, which family was suffering through illness, who had just experienced a death or a wedding. Problems in the neighborhood were shared concerns. Today, in the era of two-parent wageearners and automatic garage door openers, it’s easy to come home after a long day, hit a button and watch the neighborhood disappear as we enter the cocoon of our home. June offers us the opportunity to change that. Do you have a “back fence neighbor”? Maybe now, when he’s out in the yard, is the time to get to know him better. Host a barbecue, or a neighborhood potluck. Invite someone over for an evening iced tea on the patio. If there’s a community picnic, be sure to go and introduce yourself around. Don’t miss the parish picnic. Invite your pastor over for burgers. Go for a long stroll in the early evening and look at your neighborhood with fresh eyes. Stop to visit with people working on their lawns or in their flower beds.

There’s a famous quote: “All politics is local.” Do you know who represents your neighborhood on the city council and on the school board? Are you acquainted with your parish council members? The quote could very well have added that most religion is local as well, alive in our parish. The church, and the community, lives and breathes in the neighborhood. Is there a pressing local issue, a speed bump needed or a stop sign missing? Is there a neighborhood clean-up day? Get involved. For the Christian steward, opening our eyes to the people next door or to the folks sitting next to us in the pew can be a great proj- ect for a sunny summer.

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