“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.” (The Weight of Glory)
Sunday evenings are a special time for us as we get to enjoy potluck suppers and Jesus conversations with our neighbours at our Life Together gathering. Everyone seems to agree that Jesus was a good teacher, so what did he teach and does it still apply today, is the topic of discussion, a different story or theme discussed over appetizers from 4:30-6 PM each week followed by what always turns out to be a great potluck dinner. Last Sunday, one of our neighbours led us in what she called a ‘ritual.’ She had learned it at a contemplative listening retreat. She asked us to be silent and still for one minute (which is a long time for kids (and some adults!)) Then we were invited to share whatever ‘spirit’ was on our heart after she ‘awakened’ us with the gentle ringing of a bell. Each person was to express the word that described what had come to mind and heart for them, saying, “To the spirit of….” And then the rest of us would respond together, “awaken us”.
We were all quiet and a calm settled over all but the blue jays who refused to cooperate. The bell tolled, and a neighbour said “to the spirit of love”, “AWAKEN US.” A 7 year old said, to the spirit of happiness…”awaken us”… “to the spirit of gratitude”, chimed in the retired gentleman next to her…”awaken us,” we responded; to the spirit of forgiveness… to the spirit of fellowship… community… redemption…peace… neighbourliness…awaken us! Round and round we went until the leader explained, “Normally you just go around once but I didn’t tell you that and I’m kind of glad I forgot to, because that was beautiful.” And it was. Later another participant was so excited about the experience she could hardly express herself as she tried to describe it to her husband who had come in late. We all agreed we would do it again.
Shout and celebrate, Daughter of Zion! I’m on my way. I’m moving into your neighbourhood! God’s Decree. Zechariah 2:10 MSG
Over and over again, when we’re attentive, open and ‘out of the way’ (that is, we put aside our agendas, our answers, our ways and preconceived notions), we see that God has already come! The Triune One has gone ahead of us and is already at work in our neighbours and neighbourhoods. And we have the awesome privilege of partnering with the Spirit such that all might see, know and declare, the Kingdom of God has come near! C.S. Lewis observed, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.” (The Weight of Glory)
Oh, that our senses would be attuned… oh, that we would approach, revere and honour our neighbours as the Holy One in our midst.
Karen is a National Team Member for Forge Canada Missional Training Network and a Missional Leader Developer for the Christian Reformed Church in North America (Home Missions-Western Canada). She is also a neighbour, wife, mom, and pastor of NEW community. She has been a vocational pastor in Edmonton for 29 years and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Missional Leadership at Northern Seminary. Along with preaching and teaching in numerous places, Karen has written a number of books including Don’t Invite Them To Church: Moving From a Come and See to a Go and Be Church.