Making space for people in natural community can be super hard sometimes, especially in societies now that commute to everything. We live in the suburbs – drop our kids to a different district for school, commute to work, commute to church.
I grew up in a suburb called Chifley – all four of us kids went to the Chifley primary, me and my elder sister went to the closest high school and the other two went to the third closest. My parents worked from home – so in that respect I was different. But my Dad was a genius at making space for people so one year he decided to start on our street. Probably less then 20 houses. He started to hold an Australia Day BBQ – the weekend of the 26th January. We would clean the back yard, set up tables and start cooking. At first it was smaller just close friends closer to us in the street. Then slowly new families moved into the street. The kids would play giant games of spotlight tag along the whole street. Or before dark street cricket. Two of the men would elect themselves every year to deal with the cooking. They were good at it and enjoyed cooking amongst people. Then it got so popular that other people wanted to host it. Ever since it has toured the street and cul-de-sacs. Most of the original generation of kids have grown up and moved to different cities. But originally we would even invite our friends from completely different suburbs to join the party. People who never set foot in the same room as each other professionally sat and ate greasy meat and fresh salads.
Gatherings like these fueled a community spirit that would feed each others pets and water plants when they were climbing mountains. And help with the giant apricot harvest every year from the two huge trees two of our neighbours shared. My brother gardened for a few of them, I played golden eye on the 64 or re enacted ninjas in our back yards. And just recently when a developer wanted to knock down 4 houses and build 22 units on it the streets residences fronted the money and turned up to fight it.
Church is more and more becoming a commuter sport. The kingdom of God is not supposed to be a commuter sport. I recently read in a book by Robert lupton – “Jesus didn’t commute from heaven” He came down and got dirty.
Think of some of the heroes of the faith, did they live twenty minutes drive away? When Jesus said “go” did he mean four hours train ride away each morning? Or did he mean – effect the community you live in?