God, in Jesus, moved into our neighborhood. Jesus came and shared His life with us where we lived.
The incarnational life is about living where you live. It is about engaging emotionally with the people around you in your real life, in the place you work, live and play. It is also engaging in the challenges and hopes of a geographical area... called your neighborhood.
Neighborhood is about the power of proximity or intentionally logging life together with those you see and share through the daily grind of routine. Not much happens at first.
Our Parish Collective friends based out of Seattle and Portland call it the journey into practice, presence and place.
They live in a neighborhood in Northwest Calgary where life has been shared for some time now. It took 6 or 7 years to get there but they are there now. Children come in and out of each other's homes, women stand out in the yards in the spring and summer times for hours and share their real life struggles and hopes with each other. The men get together for shared time and space around activities.
They guard each other's children, watch out for each other and share life with each other.
The community has become a community in reality. There are monthly neighborhood shared meals. There is shared babysitting, shared life.
This family intentionally set out to love the people in their neighborhood, be attentive and truly get to know the people in it. They have become the hub, the catalysts for shared life. Their neighborhood is their parish.
They relate to it with a sense of calling and spiritual responsibility.
At Christmas they brought 3 families in their neighborhood to a fundraising ball with others in the larger spiritual community designed to raise money for the tour of the story "She has a name". A tour sharing the challenges of human trafficking in the world. It was an easy natural step. They simply brought friends to meet other friends.
Nothing awkward about it as everything was awkward about it.
The setting was a dance, a wine and cheese party. A suit & tie affair for those who never wear suits and ties... everyone was awkward all together so there was no "in" group. These families were introduced to other families in a larger spiritual community.
It was simple really... after years of the ground work of relationship.
This family is a normal family. Both parents have jobs and they have 3 kids. This isn't done through a missionary budget, it is done through real life. They get it wrong some days and get tired and don't engage with the neighbors when they could... its real life.
How they gain the space is that the larger spiritual community called Epic gathers every 2nd Sunday in a gathering called Con.verge. It is around a meal, worship and sharing. The other Sunday's this family makes their neighborhood their church gathering.
Space is created in that kind of life rhythm.
How would you like to be part of a community in your neighborhood where 98% of your members were not followers of Jesus? Where you are so thick into their lives that you were in the center of everything real and honest? A rhythm to life like this puts you in the middle of people's lives where you are God with skin on.
That is moving into your neighborhood, that is mission.
With permission to share from this family