Thursday, 3 November 2016

Who's in your neighborhood?

               Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood? 
               In your neighborhood? In your neighborhood?
               Say, who are the people in your neighborhood? 
               The people that you meet each day

               Well, they're the people that you meet
               When you're walking down the street each day!
Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, 
Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

What is it with song lyrics that won't let go? And what is it about certain conversations that trigger the lyrics?  I was asked by a colleague  to meet for a coffee so that I could be told about "missional ministry" in more detail than the information that has been sent out and has been shared at the diocesan synod.  The goal was to see how I could be persuaded to be part of the group.  I agreed and we met.  As I tried to wrap my mind around "missional ministry" I kept asking myself isn't this what we are supposed to be doing, be in community?  I had done some research before hand and had talked to people who had gone to the meetings to get their thoughts on the concept that I was asked to consider becoming a part of.  Everything that I read and was told kept me coming back to the lyrics of an old familiar tune, for those who grew up watching Sesame Street, who are the people in your neighbourbood?

When I think about the concept of forming a 
"missional group" to get to know your neighbourhood it begins to fall apart for me.  I already know my neighbours, know many of their concerns and life struggles, aging struggles, know some just to say hello or to help clear the snow in winter, and yes we have shared meals together.  It is a friendly neighborhood in many respects.  Are all neighbourhoods that way, maybe not!  But if they are not, why not?  Did I say hello or am I waiting for someone else to speak first?  If they speak first and try to make conversation how did I respond? Was I abrupt and closed?  Friendly and open to talk?  What was it that encouraged the person to continue to converse or discouraged them and saw them walk away?  My struggle with the concept continues as I keep thinking that I should know something about my neighbourhood and the people that I meet even if it is as simple as knowing that they walk their pets.  I am left wondering where are we failing as humans beings when we do not know our neighbours, are we really that inward looking and consumed?  

I did not agree to be a part of the this conversation in the way that it has been envisioned.   Thus far my colleagues have not convinced me that this is something that I need to be a part of in this way. My focus has been getting to know another neighbourhood, in addition to the one I live in, the one that I meet on a regular basis, worship with on  Sunday and get to know them, their needs, their struggles and joys.  I have been attempting to build on the community that is the congregations I am a part of and who are in relationship with each other.  But I guess the biggest drawback was that I thought this was what we were already supposed to be doing!

How is your neighbourhood?  Do you know, at least by sight, the people that you meet when you walk down the street each day?  And please, if you would make a comment on this blog post and tell me if you know your neighbour, your neighbourhood, your community.  It frightens me to think that we are isolating ourselves to the extent that we no longer know how to be in or part of a community and have become "drive in and drive out" neighbourhoods failing to see the people that we meet each day and who will abundantly enrich our lives.

These are the people in your neighbourhood,
in your neighbourhood, in your neighbourhood
these are the people in your neighbourhood,
the people that you meet
when you're walking down (or driving down) the street each day!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

What are you looking for...

I have climbed highest mountains, I have run through fields . . .
I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled city walls . . .
 . . . but I still haven't found what I'm looking for!
Written by Adam Clayton, Dave Evans, Larry Mullen, Paul David Hewson, 
Victor Reina • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

Recently the meditation group grappled with the meaning of the question "What are you looking for?" The consensus was that what you look for varies with the different stages of life and with the various experiences that help our formation.  The question, however, refuses to let go and so I find that three days on I am still thinking about the question and how it impacts us at different times.  In addition to the question rolling around was the mere coincidence that I turned on the car radio just in time for the song by U2 "And I still haven't found what I'm Looking for."  I laughed at the irony.

Think about the question and juxtapose it with the lyrics and it is easy to recognize that we are constantly searching.  Searching for happiness, searching for fulfillment, searching for success and when we reach what we thought would be the pinnacle we are content for a while and then we are looking and searching again for the next thing.  It can become a point of discontent for us as we search for what it is that we think will bring us contentment, happiness or whatever it is we need or we can see it as growth because we are always learning and seeking.  A negative or a positive depending on how we frame it and use it.

I am not sure that there is ever an easy answer to this question of what are you looking for?  The answer will inevitably vary with each person who is asked as each person is in search of something unique to them.  I think it becomes difficult when we continue on the same route always searching but never finding, always wanting something but doing little to find it or to make it happen.   When we get bogged down on that kind of route we never find what we are looking for because it always remains elusive.

I have also met many people who needed someone, anyone in their life ... that would complete them. Contentment and happiness was going to be derived from an outside source.   Someone else would provide what was needed to complete and make make them happy and whole.  I think this devalues the person and what they have to offer to themselves.  Happiness is within and it is only in seeing your own value and worth, finding your happiness that someone else can add to it, they can not provide it for someone else long term because soon that will not be enough.

So, what are you looking for?  Has the search changed in the last five years?  Have you changed?  Is your focus different?  Life is a journey, we will always be looking and searching for different things as we experience life and grow.  Along that journey I hope that you have been able to give an answer to the question what are you looking for but I also hope that you are continuing to grow, seek and challenge who you are so that you still haven't found everything!