Four Ways to Engage with Your Neighbors this 4th of July
Posted Jun 21, 2017 by Kris Eldridge in Missions
The 4th of July is right around the corner, and it provides many natural and easy ways to reach out and engage with your neighbors. From BBQ cookouts and family gatherings to parades, this holiday is an opportunity to love our neighbor. Here are four ways to engage with your neighbors this 4th of July.
One of my favorite memories as a kid was our annual 4th of July family gathering. My grandparents, my aunt, uncle, and cousins as well as my family would get together at one of our homes and would eat, tell stories, play games, and laugh. My grandpa would always bring over a huge watermelon and slice it up. My cousins and I would set off fireworks at inappropriate times.
Now, years later, we no longer have family close by and the 4th of July of looks different for us. And, we are not alone in that dynamic. Most of us have neighbors who have no family nearby. Some may be re-settled refugees, some might be widows, some might be single mothers, and many might be families who have moved away from extended families. Perhaps we could create space for those without extended family within our own families this July 4th.
Like the family gatherings, many of us will fire up the grill in the backyard and will invite friends over for hamburgers, steak, chicken, and so forth. While Jesus was more likely to grill fish than red meat, there’s no question that Jesus loved to share meals with others. Jesus, however, approached meals differently than we do. Jesus was notorious for eating with people he shouldn’t be friends with, people not like himself, especially those that were socially labeled “sinners.” Jesus often brought people together around the table who should not be friends. Perhaps this July 4th, we could rethink who we invite. Maybe we should pull the grill out front to the driveway and just invite our literal neighbors over to eat.
This next idea is a little on the quirky side, but one of my ministry friends did this event in his neighborhood and it worked really well. Here’s the idea: have a patriotic parade for pet owners and their children. He and his wife sent out fliers to the neighborhood suggesting a 4th of July parade for both kids and pets. They recommended that the kids dress up their pets in patriotic garb and bring along some musical instrument to bang or play. I’m sure that you have a great mental image of their parade at this point. The parade culminated in a picnic on their lawn.
There’s something deeply gratifying about loud bangs and explosions with fireworks (especially if you’re of the male species). Most of us are within easy driving distance of a community firework display, which costs us nothing to enjoy. We’re also within driving distance of an assisted living or nursing home. Perhaps we could find out if there’s someone who doesn’t get out much, and see if they’d like to join us for the fireworks.
What about you? What are your plans to engage your neighbors this July 4th?
Kris Eldridge | Mission Pastor
770.641.5649 | email