Thursday, June 24
All over our neighbourhood, there are lawn signs congratulating graduates who have finished their schooling at either the elementary, junior, or high school levels. In lieu of being able to gather and celebrate in person, these signs mark a way to publicly acknowledge work well done and an entry into a new stage of life.
I also occasionally see birthday banners and congratulations signs for the arrival of new babies. Truthfully, it makes the walk around the block more joyous and interesting. It gives me a small glimpse into the lives of the people within these homes, and in a small way invites me as a neighbour to acknowledge their joy and pride as well and to celebrate with them.
As Christians we are invited to love our neighbours, and I imagine most of us know those who live in closest proximity to ourselves, even if it is simply enough to give a wave as we see them entering and exiting their homes. In our home, we know those on our block, but once we turn the corner and walk a while, most of the people in the houses are strangers to us, except for these signs which tell us something about the lives inside.
Now, not everyone is graduating this summer, or has something that they wish to literally put a sign on their lawn to celebrate right now. Yet behind every door in the neighbourhood are people with hopes and dreams and sorrows and losses.
God calls upon us to love our neighbours as a central aspect of our faith because it helps us to step outside our own world and egos to take time to appreciate what other people are doing, and thinking, celebrating and mourning. It takes us out of our own self-obsessions and allows us to see the world through someone else’s eyes. This is the beginning of community to which we are called. The second aspect is to show love to a stranger. To greet them, to pray for them, to treat them with the same respect with which you wish to be treated.
As our provincial government opens up our world to stage two, I invite you to remember that we are a people called to community. We were not meant to be alone – or even in only household bubble groups. We may not be ready to embrace each other yet, or sit across from each other to share a meal, but while the weather is nice and we get outdoors more, let us not live in fear of each other but begin to practice living in community once more. This means greeting those we see, heading outside for walks to count the signs, and giving thanks for the celebrations of others and for the blessings in our own lives. And even if our own moment of celebration isn’t present yet, our God of promise teaches us that our moment may just be around the corner, if we are open to it.
I invite you this weekend to take a prayer walk in your neighbourhood, and as you walk pray for those in the homes you pass. Notice things about each house as you pass.
- For those with lawn signs – give thanks for their achievements and pray for their futures.
- For homes with visible children’s toys – pray for the children in the homes, and ask God to guide them in their growth.
- For homes with lovely lawns – give thanks for those who take care of creation and add beauty to the world, pray that beauty may be found inside their homes as well.
- For homes with cars visible – pray a prayer of protection for those who go out into the world to world and to provide for their families. Pray they will be safe on the roads, and that God will be with them on their journeys.
Be creative as you pray, notice what is in front of you and simply offer heart-felt prayers for those who live in your neighbourhoods.
As you walk you can also pray one word for each step: righteousness and mercy, love and truth, peace and joy, praying to be a conduit of God’s grace wherever you are and wherever you go. Pray that Christ will lead your way.
Prayer before setting out:
Loving Lord, we go out to pray today for our neighbours and those who live in our communities.
We pray a blessing over each person and every household we pass and we ask that each one will be filled with your peace and experience fullness of life.
Where there is goodness and abundance, we pray for a spirit of gratitude and joy; where there is pain and challenge, we pray that there would be an awareness of your presence with them in and through all things.
We pray for ourselves that we may be neighbours who are Beacons of Hope, embodying and sharing your light, life and love through the faithful daily witness of our discipleship.
Please Lord, stir up in us a deeper desire to bless and serve and pray for our neighbours and fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we may see with your eyes and respond with your love and grace.
We long for you to be lifted up and glorified in our lives and our communities today.
Adapted from The Rev. Lynn Green