Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Creating Community in the Neighborhood- Part 2

Part 2-Creating Neighborhood

First, we need to define our “neighborhood”. Who are the people that you regularly come in contact with?  These can be your physical neighbors in the houses or apartments around yours, or they can be the people that you see at work, at a club or social activity, at the local coffee shop.  
Secondly, we need to intentionally go about engaging with these folks to get to know them and their stories.  Everyone has a story and most people are eager to share at least part of their story.  There is a deep need in every human to be heard and affirmed for the unique person he/she is in Christ.  
So how do we engage people without seeming pushy or strange?  Maybe it’s as simple as going out of your way to greet a person by name and asking about something going on in their life.  If you’ve noticed a neighbor who walks a dog every day past your house, you could make a point of being in your front yard at that time, ready to greet the person as they pass by.  If you have children on a team or part of a club, arrive a bit early for pick up and intentionally speak with some of the other parents.  Or, maybe plan an event at your home or in a community gathering spot to which you will invite a particular group of people whom you’d like to get to know better. 
Hopefully this group of people would not be folks you regularly attend church with.  You already have a community built in there.  Think bigger and differently.  Look around at those who seem to be alone or lonely.  The people that aren’t the head of the PTA or the coach of the soccer team.  The folks who you don’t see outside for a walk with a spouse or friend.  Pray for God to open your eyes to see the neighbors around you.
Have a plan!  Keep it simple!  Remember to pray before, during, and after every encounter.  Building community takes time and persistence.  You have to regularly meet and talk with someone in order to establish the kind of trust where true sharing and caring can occur.  Relationships need tending in order to bear good fruit.  Don’t get discouraged if everyone you meet isn’t open to forming a relationship with you.  People are in different places on their journey.  Some will be receptive, some will not, some will come around in time.  Our job is to plant seeds and water them.  God, through the Holy Spirit, will bring the growth.

So – who are the people in YOUR neighborhood?  What are the needs of YOUR community?  How can YOU begin to show Christ’s love through your words and actions?

Thanks to Deaconess Deb Lennox
 for sharing this encouragement 
for Neighborhood ministry.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Creating Community in the Neighborhood- Part 1

Creating Community in the Neighborhood

What is Community?
-your neighborhood?
-your church?
-your circle of friends?
-your workplace or social organization?
YES!  All of these can be your community.  Community is not defined by geography, but by commonality and intentionality.
When we speak of community, we are talking about the people that you are in regular, close contact with and share something in common.
True community is something that takes time to create, it is work and it requires effort.  It is a place where the voices of the members are listened to and heard, where the members tend to each other’s needs, and where the strength of the whole is more important than the individual.
When we talk about Christian community, we simply mean that we share a common life in Christ.  We commit ourselves to life together as the people of God.  We move out of the self-interested isolation of our private lives and beyond superficial social contacts.  It is deep and it is real.
Why should we care about community?
Take a look at some of these sobering statistics:
  • Since the 1980s, the percentage of American adults who say they’re lonely has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent.
  • About one-third of Americans older than 65 now live alone, and half of those over 85 do. 
  • Individuals with less social connection have disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, more inflammation and higher levels of stress hormones. One recent study found that isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29 percent and stroke by 32 percent.
  • Loneliness can accelerate cognitive decline and can contribute to premature health complications in older adults. 
  • All told, loneliness is as important a risk factor for early death as obesity and smoking.
In the book, Bowling Alone, author Robert Putnam said the greatest social epidemic in American life is loneliness.  This statement may resonate with many who feel alienated, lonely, and depressed – those who go home every night to watch T.V. and eat by themselves on the couch.
Is this the life we should be living?  What does God want for our lives?  Consider the following:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10:24-25
For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 1 Corinthians 12:13
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
It is clear from these passages that God wants us to interact and be interconnected with our brothers and sisters, and even commands that we love each other.  So how do we begin to do that?

Watch for Part 2- Later this week!
Thanks to Deaconess Deb Lennox
 for sharing this encouragement 
for Neighborhood Ministry.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Mackenzie Sottini-Visual Faith Practices in the Classroom

Lutheran Educator-
Mackenzie Sottini
Teacher Mackenzie Sottini
 describes one of the Lenten practices in her
Resurrection Lutheran School classroom.

Using the resource from her church,
this Cary, North Carolina teacher
 reads to her 5th grade students from 
Lenten Psalms and they "listen"
for words that "jump out to them."
The students are using  a calendar 
that can be downloaded and printed here:
As they reflect on their "word of the day" 
they fill in part of the palm branch
 and color in the space.
The students keep their 
calendars in a file folder.
All the calendars look different,
because each journey is different.
What do words of LENT look like?
 This same Lent resource has centering
 and discussion about discipleship.
These young students
are also talking about, 
 thinking and praying
 about their personal walk
 with Jesus.
What does that look like?
What is wanted?
What is needed?
What are the priorities?
Where do I need guidance? 

What are distractions in my life? 
They will have the visual stories to tell
and share in this classroom,
in their homes and in their 
connected relationships.

Thanks for sharing this glimpse
 into your classroom,
for Lutheran Schools week.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Paula Daniels- A Heart for Blessing

Paula Daniels
 Taylorsville, North Carolina

I recently was blessed 
to spend some time with Paula,
and help with
 a "Sem-Student Care Package"
It was a popcorn packet with a
Bible Verse encouragement 
for about 160 students.
Below is a photo of a few
 of the students at 
Concordia Seminary-Fort Wayne
 receiving their gifts.
Left to Right:
Trae Fistler (IA), Timothy Sheridan (NC),
 Kaitlin Jandereski (MI),
 Christian Schultz (KS), Brett Witmer (PA)

All the men are 2nd year M.Div. students.

It doesn't take much time around Paula
 to see the heart of blessing
 that is part of her DNA.
There have been multiple 
gifts of remembrance 
through the years. 
From the time her son
 was a seminary student,
to now as her husband 
serves on the Board of Regents.

Sometimes even a small gift,
thoughtfully shared, 
lets others know someone is
thinking of them.
Who might you bless this week?