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How might participating in our neighborhoods be part of God’s mission?

COVID-19 has made many of us more attentive to our neighborhoods. Where else could we be? Could the Spirit be up to something? Numerous studies reveal that neighborhood community is the most effective means of addressing at least seven essentials that lead to personal and communal well-being and, thus, an abundant community—an abundant community that from the perspective of the Christian faith reflects God’s kingdom of shalom.

Our society’s growing understanding of the significance of community seems to resonate with Scripture and God’s desire for God’s world. Perhaps an abundant community is exactly what God had in mind when the Lord instructed the exiles to seek the peace and well-being of the city where God had sent them (Jer. 29:4-7).

What if we too are sent to nurture abundant communities—to pay attention to our neighborhoods, care for generations of families, plant gardens and do life together with our neighbors?

We all yearn—creation groans!—for this kind of place, one where we all belong, where all feel safe, secure, welcomed, and cared for, where all can grow, flourish, and contribute to the common good: an abundant community.

Perhaps the church, struggling to discern her role in this great unraveling, might begin to discern what God is up to by seeking the peace and well-being of the neighborhoods where she has been sent to remain. Perhaps this is the place for followers of Jesus to start in a disillusioned, broken, and divided world. What if we all just loved our neighbors? What if we began to notice God at work by Samaritan wells, Gentile homes (Cornelius), and the rivers where women gather (Lydia)? Where might God already be at work in your neighborhood? Through the gifted people next door, the wise seniors a few houses down, the carpenter one block over, the gardener, or the teen shoveling snow? How might you join in? Perhaps God’s kingdom has come near! Perhaps every square inch is the Lord’s, and God’s dream is for the redemption of all things, including your neighborhood!

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