April 29th – “Neighbours”

This morning I drove to North Bramalea United Church. I wanted to experience their church service, as I had heard that they are a very active and vibrant congregation, offering two services and a lot of programming. It’s a beautiful church and the positive energy is felt as soon as you step in the door. They definitely lived up to their reputation.

The message of the day was, “How Do We Live Out Our Beliefs?” The minister believed that we share it best through acts of love, integrity and kindness. He shared an initiative that his church did a few years ago. Upon reflection on the biblical passage, “love your neighbour as yourself”, someone in the congregation made the realization that he really didn’t know his neighbours. He didn’t know the people who shared his road, fence and property line. Other people agreed with him. So he asked this daring question: “what would happen if everyone in the church hosted a neighbourhood party to build relationships between neighbours?”

The minister thought it was a great idea, and figuring he needed to be a good role model, he went first.

He sent out invitations to everyone on his street to come over to his home one Saturday morning for an informal get together. He set up tables on his driveway with chips and pop, nothing more. When the time came, no one showed up. A little disheartened, he drowned his sorrows in a few plastic cups of Pepsi.

But then, one person, one family at a time, people wandered over. Eventually more than 30 people filled his driveway.

There was awkwardness at first as people wondered if there was a hidden agenda. There wasn’t. Eventually people started to loosen up. The kids started playing basketball while the adults mingled. The minister said he got to know people he had lived next door to for years, but who were a mystery to him. After a couple of hours people made their way home again, but this time they had a smile on their face.

Two weeks later, one of the men who had been at the party dropped dead of heart attack. He was just 37 years old. Out of this tragedy, something special happened. Thanks to the neighbourhood party, the neighbours knew this man as more than “the guy at #37”. They rallied together to offer support to his wife and family. They provided food, and offered to take care of his property (cutting the grass, etc.). Who know that “loving your neighbour” actually starts with LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOUR.

It got me thinking about my neighbours. I wave. I say hello. I comment to them about the weather. But do I know them? Do I really know them?

Do you know yours??

So I’m planning a neighborhood party sometime this summer/fall. All it takes is tables, chips, pop, patience, and then, see who shows up.

This reminder alone, that loves starts with the people next door, was worth the drive to Bramalea.