Several weeks ago, I wrote about a book called The Art of Neighboring. I also preached for a few weeks on how the Great Commandment should be an intentional priority in our lives. I asked the congregation to begin small group studies on The Art of Neighboring. Part of the process of the book is to host a block or community gathering, as a way to share the love of God that we have received.
I have to confess that I struggled to wholeheartedly embrace that task. It was really easy to make excuses.
Katy and I planned to host an ice cream social before school started. Plans changed due to life with two small children. Then, when we were ready to send out invitations, the weather forecast said the event would be rained out.
Which gave me the chance to make more – and better – excuses, because I can’t control the weather!
“Best House of the Night”
After wondering how we might accomplish this task, we knew we needed to do decide on something. So, we decided to use Halloween to our advantage. Since people literally come to your door asking for a treat, it seemed only a natural opportunity for us to meet many of our neighbors who were out walking around our community.
On my way home from church that afternoon, I stopped by the store and bought hot dogs, buns, and fixings. When folks came by the house to trick-or-treat we offered them candy and hot dogs. We gave out almost 100 hot dogs – with some repeat customers because I told folks I didn’t want any leftovers.
This little extra work helped us to see the blessings we received as we chatted with our neighbors. The way people received this small gesture of hospitality was a pleasant surprise. It was a reminder to look for chances to share in fellowship with others. Several neighbors mentioned that our hospitality and kindness was a great gift (not the food, but the caring). And, I heard more than one that hot dogs made our house the “best house of the night.”
Just Take a Chance
As Katy and I reflected about this experience later that night and the following days, we shared with each other how wonderful it is to just be kind to others, and to have God bless that effort with good conversation, laughter, and appreciation for such a small gift.
The thing about this sort of hospitality and kindness is that it made me think more about God’s grace. No conditions, no expectations. Just an offer of a gift that demands nothing in return. Sure, I gave out hot dogs and God gives out the gift of salvation; but, in a world that needs more kindness and generosity, it is a great place to start.
If you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to do so. I you have but aren’t sold on the idea, just take the chance. And be ready for God to bless your work in surprising ways. In this world where so many of our fellow human beings lack hope in their lives, we, as the Church, have been asked by our Savior to offer that hope. That’s a job we should not take lightly, because I am confident that God will bless our efforts and show up in mighty ways.
Grace and peace,