The Neighborhood Liturgies

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Rise Up! (By Walking Next Door)

As we've gone through our neighborhood "creed" you may have noticed a progressing theme. This is intentional. We have to start with basic human worth in order to see that there are people who are disenfranchised in this world. Being comfortable with the idea of marching for and laying lives down for a cause is one thing but, actually doing it is another. 

"We believe that it is the obligation of all people to recognize, preserve and restore the inherent worth and humanity of all who are marginalized and disenfranchised by this world."

There are people who suffer in this world. It's undeniable. Most of this suffering is brought on by people's lust for power, hoarding of resources and honestly plain and simple hatred. It's not enough to be open to the idea of stepping into suffering because real people are hurt by inaction. We have to recognize where people are suffering and step into those spaces! Growing up in church "those" people "over there" are suffering so we needed to send a missionary. I'm sure many of us reading are probably already feeling overwhelmed by the thought of marching with Black Lives Matter and protesting bad policy. It's ok I feel overwhelmed too. What if we started small?

When's the last time you talked to your literal neighbor? Yes. The person right next door.

It's one thing to "change the world" (and there are organizations worth joining for that) and it's another thing to change your city block. Recognizing and desiring to preserve the worth of a human being as an ideal is still a "them over there" mentality! It helps to categorize marginalization and disenfranchisement in different frames of discourse.

Big Picture Discourse: Systemic and enclosed taking many years to change.

Things that fall into this category: police brutality against people of color, bullying of the LGBTQ community, generational poverty, food shortages, excessive personal debt.

Small Frame discourse: Human to human interaction creating immediate change.

Things that fall into this category: police brutality against people of color, bullying of the LGBTQ community, generational poverty, food shortages, excessive personal debt.

Yes. Both contain the same issues but the "D" being capitalized or not matters. Big picture approaches take many years and culminate in policy and social change over a long time. Marriage equality being passed into a law is a great example of this. When reacting to suffering in this manner you will get exhausted if it's assumed this will happen over night. Small frame discourse is more subtle but leads to long term change. I asked about your neighbor because without knowing them personally you might not understand how they are suffering. Do keep in mind we all suffer and need others to care for us. 

Does you neighbor have crippling personal debt that's preventing them from feeding their family? Can you alleviate that suffering by paying a credit card off for them? It's small and simple acts of love over time that helps us to advance together. My neighbors are members of the LGBTQ community who recently adopted. We got to know how they met in the military under the "don't ask don't tell" era. They had a secretive relationship and when one got out the don't ask don't tell policy had been lifted and they got married. Our first time meeting each other we talked for 5 hours and had dinner together. Our neighbor on the other side hates "the lesbians down the street". Our neighbors do give them glances and walk away when they come outside and the kids are playing. We refuse. Their house and dog are under our care when they travel and vice versa. We found out they officially adopted their child as soon as they came home from court. 

It's as simple as eating at the black owned local restaurant over the chain. When the police show up it's sitting and making sure that they are not unreasonably forceful to the community. These small acts of kindness to protect the worth of others that change our communities. When the water rates are too high it's bringing our bills to city hall together peaceably to expect changes. We can make it TOGETHER. When one of us is dehumanized by this world we must remind each other and ourselves who we are made in the image of, seek to understand and then stand up with each other. It's possible to change the world one human heart at a time. Will we be willing to walk next door to do it? I want to leave us with the words of Jesus:

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."

May we all take heart and through Christ may we overcome the world together.

-Charlie P.