Week 4 - Things to Think About in the Art of Neighboring - Reservoir Church
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Week 4 – Things to Think About in the Art of Neighboring

May 9, 2016

Ephesians 2:7-10  The Message (MSG)

7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

“The great Commandment is a matter of obedience to those who know and follow Jesus.  We don’t love our neighbors so they will know Jesus; we love our neighbors because we already love Jesus and trust him.  We are called to love our neighbors, even if our neighbors never show any interest in Jesus, because we have made Jesus our highest priority.  Again, we are not supposed to love our neighbors to convert them.  We love our neighbors because we have  been converted.”   (Pathak & Runyon, The Art of Neighboring)

Questions & Invitations:

  1. What if our work in neighboring and partnering with God is to allow him the realm of “both the making and the saving”?  Perhaps this reality promotes our own realm of work to be aware – to love and to show up as much as we can with our neighbors.

Ask God this week to show you where he might already be working through you and in your neighborhood.   Also ask God to show you where it is more of your work of seeing and loving is needed in your neighborhood.

  1.   Psalm 90:12 says: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” – Ask God to guide you in prioritizing your days within it’s limitations and to the edges of it’s capacity.   Ask God to show you where and how  neighboring fits within your days.

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“Look Up” – Mark Erelli  (album – For a Song)

All day long they shuffle through
Sneakers, sandals, high heel shoes
Scraps of paper, wads of gum
My work here is never done
They exit now in single file
I sweep the floors and scrub the tiles
Til dying echoes quiet the room
And leave me leaning on my broom

Above me now the fall of man
But it all depends on where you stand
Is He letting go or reaching out for Adam’s hand

(Chorus)
Look up, look up
There are angels flying low enough to see
Look up, oh look up

Four long years I’ve bent my back
Painting every plaster crack
The hand of God and Adam’s sin
Rain down in brush drops thick and thin
I ache with shame and head for home
Through the darkened streets of Rome
The night girls calling out to me
And drunkards praying on their knees

Above me now the canopy
The stars in all their majesty
Remind me of the master I will never be

(Chorus)

High above the blessed and cursed
Like ants they scurry on the Earth
Debauchery and daily chores
Always hungry, wanting more
I’ve sent them plague and flood and fire
Tried so hard to stay inspired
And somehow solve the mystery
Of what they ever saw in me

If I could only kneel before
The man who sweeps the chapel floor
Show him he’s as holy as the angels
Maybe more                                                 

(chorus)

Mark Erelli is a local singer/songwriter who has played with many well-known artists such as Josh Ritter, Paula Cole and Zachariah Hickman – as well as the father and son collaboration of Taylor and Jake Armerding in Barnstar!

In this song, Look Up – Mark Erelli reminds us to be aware of who and what surrounds us.  The mundane, the dirty, the messy and at the same time the  beauty, wonder, and the  joy –  often, as he points out – found in the same space.

Questions & Invitations:

  1. In the context of neighboring where is it that you experience or notice beauty, wonder and joy?  Where is it that you notice the dirty, the messy and the mundane?   Which tends to take the spotlight most in your scope?

Ask God to give you equal sights for the beauty as the mess.

 

2.   If we were to take the title of this song, literally and Look Up – how would this affect your neighboring efforts?  What would it look like this week to be more intentional about looking up as you commute to the train, stand at the bus stop, walk down your apartment hallway, cross the park to your house?

Ask God to give you a shift in perspective this week – starting with a tilt upward of your chin.

3.  The last stanza of this song seems to suggest that people in front of us might behold the same reverence and beauty that we would ascribe to angels.  What might it look like in your week to see others around you with this lens?


Ask God for his Holy Spirit to illuminate the “angels” in your midst this week.

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Invitation:  
In this week’s sermon we heard the invitation to make “praying for your 6” a lifestyle.  As you feel led this week – use this neighboring map as a mode to pray for your 6.  Ask God to help you craft this into a lifestyle as you think about your neighborhoods and people who dwell next to you.

block map jpg

 

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Romans 12:11-13  The Message (MSG)
11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

“Good neighboring is not about doing charity work.  It’s not simply about doing for others and looking ways to give and give and give.  Rather, good neighboring is about helping to create a sense of community within your neighborhood.  It’s about empowering people and breaking down walls.  It’s about everybody doing something together for the common good.  As you might imagine, this is much easier said than done.  Receiving can be a challenge for a number of reasons.   Great neighborhoods are built on reciprocal relationships … no one wants to feel like a project.  If we don’t allow people to meet any of our needs, we limit what God wants to do in our neighborhood and our life”.
(Pathak & Runyon, The Art of Neighboring)

Questions & Invitations:

  1.  Have there been instances where you have burnt out in your neighboring efforts?  Where needs, energy and time started to trump your own extension of love for your neighbors?

Ask God to refuel and set aflame your desire to be present to your neighbors. Ask God for a picture of reciprocal relationship as you enter into this.

 

  1.  Where have you noticed opportunities for the common good and empowerment to break through in your own community?

Pray for more pictures of where there is a common need that would result in a common good in your neighborhood.  Pray that your own walls of self-sufficiency and fear be metered as you look to partner in ways that could draw together members of your community.