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by Amy Notbohm

A “FOR SALE” sign just went up on a house down the street from me.  I noticed it for the first time this morning, and I was hit by a variety of thoughts and emotions.  I know the neighbors who live there, but only slightly.  I know they like cars and are willing to lend a hand moving large rocks outside our house.  We’ve chatted at neighborhood events through the years, but I can’t say I really KNOW them: who they are, what makes them tick. What is their history, and what are they looking forward to?  I think my first emotion when the sign went up was a little sadness that I had no idea they were thinking of moving.  Was it a quick decision or years in the making?  Are they downsizing? Moving to be near family?  Financial troubles? I have absolutely no idea. I feel like they are a present that I never opened and now will not have the chance.  They are full of wonderful stories and gifts, skills and talents. Joys and sorrows. They will be gone before I really discovered any of those.

I also felt the joy of opportunity wondering about who may move in?  Will it be a family, or a single, Someone old or young?  An Arizonan or someone from someplace else?  We are going to have the gift of a new neighbor.  It’s like a new Amazon package is being delivered to my door and I have the choice to open it up or just leave it out there for the porch pirates.

I think my lesson this morning is to look at my neighbors with new eyes.  Like most things in life that really matter, they are temporary.  I cannot take their presence for granted.  With the uncertainty of life, they may not be my neighbor tomorrow.  So, when our new neighbors move in, I’m going to introduce myself and see if we can get to know each other.  I’m also going to make a point to talk to the other neighbors on my street that I don’t KNOW as well. The next time a “FOR SALE” sign goes up, I hope that it isn’t a surprise because our relationship is strong enough and close enough that our lives are connected.  Each front door holds a gift just waiting to be opened, and I hope I don’t miss out on what God has delivered to my street.

Starting May 2, we are starting a 6-week sermon series called “The Neighbor Next Door.”  When Jesus tells us  that  the greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, what if he is including our literal, actual next door neighbors in that command?  Many of us  have  stories of wonderful neighbors in our lives, those people who took the time to get to know us, to be there to celebrate life events and bring over a meal when we are in mourning.  They water plants when we’re away, watch out for kids riding bikes where there are cars, and pass names along to someone they know if hiring when we lose a job.  I don’t know about you though, but it seems like those neighbors are harder and harder to find and it’s harder to be  that  neighbor, but maybe now is the time to really rediscover the transformational nature of intentional neighboring.  We will explore what it means to be in relationship and rediscover the abundance and joy that comes with building connecting, healthy, loving neighborhoods, right with those who live closest to us.