Missional Smissional

I am cursing under my breath, the neighborhood cats or dogs have knocked over our trash can and I am left cleaning it up. I glance over at my neighbors wife coming home from work and our eyes meet as she drives in her driveway. We smile at each other and nod our heads which is a suburbian way of saying hello, I guess. We don’t know each other. It’s a shame really but we don’t. Our “missional” efforts have gone the other way. The other way up our street that is. We have established a relationship with another neighbor that lives two houses down the street, the other way. Being “Missional”(I am growing painfully tired of that term but not what it stands for) is hard work. Outside and inside. Outside and inside our house, we are becoming more and more convinced and inspired for our house to become a refuge, a gathering place for our neighbors, a retreat of sorts. For us this means a change of lifestyle. A clean and welcoming house has not been a value for our family until lately. Our back yard is slowly being transformed from barren wasteland into fruitful gathering place. That takes a lot of hard work. We still have a long way to go.

Inside and outside ourselves. God is changing our hearts, stirring up all kinds of things. Our own selfishness and comfort-worshiping has become painfully evident in this time of journeying towards otherness and sacrifice. We will have to sacrifice to get to know our neighbors. Our lives will change. We will have to do things different. Develop new practices and habits. We still have a long way to go.

My prayer tonight is based on St. Brendan’s prayer
St. Rickard’s Prayer

Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home? Shall I turn my back on my comfy couch, and turn my face towards my neighbors?

Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy, without cleaver words, without a well rehearsed testimony, without a desire to argue, without all answers? Shall I say farewell to the comfort of my self made Christian ghetto, placing myself under Your yoke?

Shall I pour out my heart to You, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness, tears streaming down my cheeks? Shall I leave the prints of my shoes on my neighbors lawn, a record of my final prayer in the selfish state I have been in?

Shall I then suffer every kind of wound this neighborhood can inflict? Shall I walk across the lawn and the street to my neighbors houses? O King of the Glorious Heaven, shall I go of my own choice to my own neighborhood?

O Christ, will You help on the wild ride?


~ by Rickard on December 17, 2007.

10 Responses to “Missional Smissional”

  1. Great prayer, Rickard. It is hard to break out of our personal comfort zones, and harder still to attempt to break into our neighbor’s territory. It took us more than 2 months to get to know our next door neighbors, who have a kids almost exactly the same age as ours!

  2. Journey on, Bro…you are far from alone!


  3. Maria, you are further along than we, we have lived in our neighborhood for 10 years. Granted, most of our neighbors are new(by new I mean there is only one original one left). We do however, have our neighbors right next door over several times a week for dinner though, of course they are my parents;-)

  4. I come from pioneer families on both sides, and one of the typical traditions of those who journeyed to the Western U.S. in the late 1800s and early 1900s was to plant flowers, vegetable gardens, and fruit trees wherever they went. Since they often moved a few times before settling into their final locale, that meant they did not always benefit directly from what they planted. But still, they invested themselves in cultivating something organic that would feed and bless whoever came after them.

    One of my biggest frustrations is being practically a shut-in due to fatigue and working at home, hardly going out in my own neighborhood. Don’t want to totally excuse myself from local involvement … and yet, within these narrow constraints of low energy, at least I am able to cultivate something worthwhile from inside these four walls that hopefully will make a missional difference for generations of the future …

  5. p.s. accidentally hit the “submit comment” just as i was ready to start typing one more thought:

    Seems to me that, even though you may feel frustrated, you are preparing literal and metaphorical soil in your own back yard for yourselves and your kids to live more missionally. You already get it that this is worth it, and I trust you will soon be able to taste the fruits of your labors …

  6. Had some thoughts about this a couple of weeks ago, but..as always i tend to forget things like this.

  7. Good stuff, Rickard. When you figure out what to do with your neighbors you can come help me with mine. Heck, I still don’t know what to do with my friends.

  8. I’ve wrestled with some of those same guilty feelings, Ric. The guy who lives across the street from us is single. We’ve spoken perhaps three times since he moved into the ‘hood two years ago. Another gentleman just moved in two houses down from us about five or six months ago, and I still haven’t gone by to knock on his door and say hello. At the same time, we have cultivated closer ties with some of our other neighbors, particularly those who have kids (ours are 6 and almost-4).

    It was a conversation over breakfast with Joe Myers that helped me out. If you haven’t read his book, The Search to Belong, it’s helpful. Joe argues for four layers of community, ranging from the purely public, hang-out-in-a-stadium-with-35,000-other-people kind of community all the way down to the one-on-one, intimate soul friendship. One of the things that I realized as we talked over the implications of his thinking was that I’m going to have all those different kinds of relationships with the grab-bag of people that God has put in the same ‘hood as me, and that’s okay.

    It’s okay to have a purely hey-there nod kind of relationship with some of your neighbors, a front-porch relationship with others, a come-over-and-have-a-beer friendship with others and perhaps a soul friend or two (boy are you blessed if that happens). All of those relationships constitute healthy forms of community, and sometimes we will drift back and forth between them with a certain person. The key, I think, is prayerfully learning how we ought to express God’s purpose and pleasure in each kind of relationship, and embracing the worth of each kind of community.

  9. Thanks jmichaelmatkin, that was helpful. Can I use your reply in a post?

  10. Oh, yeah, if you think it’s useful, go right ahead. Just make me look smart, wise and wicked handsome 8^B

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