By Kim Lyle
Baked spaghetti. I’m not a good cook, in fact I’d probably consider myself a bad one, but I can make baked spaghetti. And it just so happens that it’s my next-door neighbor’s favorite meal. I can’t even remember why I took it to her the first time that I did. But now, every time I make it, including just last night, I take her some.
Just about everyone wants to know their neighbors, but in today’s culture, it’s easier said than done. As Todd and I have matured in life, and in our faith, we have tried to be more intentional with our neighbors.
Sometimes that’s as easy as making baked spaghetti. Sometimes that’s as tricky as having honest and personal conversations and speaking hard truth. Some days we find ourselves refereeing kickball games and shouting matches amongst the 10 kids in our cul-de-sac. Other days we find ourselves reminiscing and grieving over the loss of a neighbor and dear friend just months ago. Perhaps the secret to being a great neighbor isn’t winning “Yard of the Month” (even though we did:)), but it’s finding delight in helping each other in the good and the bad. Being a good neighbor is deeper than just occupying the same space over time, it’s building a connection.
Martin Luther coined the term “priesthood of the believer”. Luther described this as the conviction that all Christians have the capacity to minister to others. And the beauty of living in suburban America (as most of us do) is that we don’t have to go very far to find others to minister to. Sometimes they are right next door.
You see, all of us have the opportunity to see our neighborhoods, our little radiuses, as extended family to minister to. Family with that weird uncle, a nosy grandmother, and even some pesky cousins that we don’t always get along with. But how will we ever get to know and love that family if we don’t open our doors and open our eyes to the people around us? We have learned to take walks without agendas or headphones. We make an effort to participate in neighborhood functions even if they aren’t quite our thing. We look the other way when their dog is pooping in our yard (sidebar… we struggle with this one, so if you have any tips please let us know). We pray for opportunity. And when they are loud or nosy or weird we remember that Jesus loves them too. We remember that we get to be priests. We remember that we can help. And we make them baked spaghetti.