Natural Rhythms - by Kandy Bennett
I get asked this question a lot: How can I find time in my busy schedule of work, school, family, and friends to reach out to my neighbors and co-workers?
The short answer: natural rhythms of life. The long answer: Being a disciple of Jesus does not start and end when we attend church or participate in a spiritual activity. Worshiping God and living as a disciple of Jesus is who we are. Jesus came as a servant and asks us to follow after Him. He asks us to be missionary servants 24/7.
There are many opportunities for getting to know neighbors and co-workers. We need to be praying for God’s Spirit to lead us to the people He is already preparing for us to impact: We call them People of Peace. God is already softening their heart, preparing them for our friendship and the Gospel message we bring.
The holidays are one of many natural rhythms: Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving, etc. Each of these holidays have a main meal or backyard cookout involved. What would it be like to invite some of your neighbors or co-workers to join your family and possibly Christian friends for one of these meals?
Well, we did this multiple times in 2017: Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. We invited our neighbors and some of our Christian friends to join us for a cookout or meal. It was fun! And the really great thing about it was our neighbors enjoyed themselves enough to come back again and again.
I’d like to share a glimpse into our Thanksgiving dinner. I had observed the previous year that our neighbors (Buddhist art professor at OSU and spouse) did not have any company for Thanksgiving and did not go anywhere. So, I felt prompted by the Spirit to ask if they’d like to join us for our Thanksgiving meal. They accepted! Our daughter, Kristin, and her husband, Tim, and their almost 15 month old (at that time) were coming as well.
We had the usual turkey dinner … nothing special, unless you think our Bennett family recipe of mac and cheese is special. Some people do! We all crowded around our dining room table. (That’s how I like it at holiday meals! Reminds me of my family growing up as our family of eight joined with our aunt, uncle, and cousins Al & Ray). David explained that we have a couple traditions we do every Thanksgiving: prayer of thanks and our Bennett Book of Thanksgiving. (I started this homemade book back in 1990 with some card stock paper and ruled notebook paper for recording our thanks to God.) I told them they could participate at whatever level they felt comfortable.
David prayed a simple but heartfelt prayer for our meal, blessings, and wonderful neighbors who had joined us. Then we ate with gusto and laughter as we shared stories and memories. Toward the end of the meal Kristin surprised us with a short Bible reading from The Jesus Storybook Bible. She said this might become a family tradition for her children!
After dinner we gathered in the living room and recorded things we were thankful for this past year. Both of my neighbors joined in and added their thoughts to our book of Thanksgiving. Before they left we had an enlightening conversation about family backgrounds which gave us much insight into our neighbors. I’m sure they left knowing that we took Thanksgiving seriously and believed all of our blessings come from the hand of God! It was a great second step in the telling of the Gospel message. We are praying for the next opportunity with them to dig deeper into spiritual conversation. Meanwhile, we continue to connect with them in ways which grow our friendship.
How about you? Do you know your neighbors? How can you use the natural rhythms of life to be active as missionary servants right where you live?
(originally published in the Converge Group Sustaining Support Team Newsletter)