Those of us who have come from a middle class or working class background and have responded to Jesus’ call to the margins often expect that we are going to be showing God’s love to the poor, but we might find that this isn’t exactly how it goes.
At Urban Seed we offer opportunities to move into one of the neighbourhoods where we work (Norlane in Geelong, St Albans or Melbourne CBD) and volunteer with us as Mission Associates. Our Mission Associates work alongside our neighbours in the community on projects like the People’s Pantry food coop in Norlane or Credo Café community meals in Melbourne.
One of our Mission Associates was recently reflecting to us about how special her pregnancy had been in the context of the community she has been working alongside. One member of our community became very protective of the mother-to-be. He said that if there was any risk of an altercation in our space he and other neighbours would stand in the gap to keep her safe. Another member of the community was reminding her to make sure she got lots of rest and sleep. A third neighbour was making sure she didn’t have to strain herself too much by going and getting things for her.
This experience was important because the way that members of the street community were showing love to us, when we have often thought it was primarily our place to show love to them. Some of our neighbours have become excluded or disconnected from the experience of family - but we might have opportunities to include them in the experience of our families. Our role might not be to perform great feats of heroic love, but to find ways of just including our neighbours in family life.
At the moment many people are anticipating the arrival of Christmas - but not everyone is looking forward to it. For folks who are disconnected from family, Christmas can be a reminder of everything they are missing out on.
Is there anything you could do during this time to include someone in the experience of family this Christmas? Some churches and other community groups are organising big neighbourhood Christmas meals where anyone can come along and celebrate together. Maybe you could find out what’s happening where you live and get involved? Or you might be up for inviting neighbours around to your own place to celebrate Christmas together.