“Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten; Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.”
To become good stewards of Christ’s love to our neighborhoods, we have to move from being simply consumers to being invested participants, faithfully contending for the well-being of those on the margins, whether that means serving them directly or advocating for them to address systemic injustice. It can be difficult to know where to start, or even to begin seeing that some are marginalized. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to “prime the pump,” to get you thinking about ways you can serve the poor in your neighborhood.
- Are there adequate transportation options to give all in my neighborhood reasonable access to employment, commerce, and services?
- Are all children in my neighborhood given the opportunity to get an education that equips them to achieve and thrive? Are our local schools places of positive influence on our children and on the social fabric of our community?
- Is it safe to walk on the sidewalks, both in terms of physical accessibility and in terms of safety from violence?
- Does everyone in my neighborhood have reasonable access to healthy foods?
- Do the residents of my neighborhood have the opportunity to live a healthy, active lifestyle? Do they choose to do so?
- Is there housing available to mixed income levels?
- Are there spaces where residents of my community can gather to get to know each other, to celebrate, or to organize for change? If so, do people make use of these spaces?
- Are quality jobs available to everyone in my neighborhood?
- Does my neighborhood experience marginalization when important decisions are being made by local politicians? Do local politicians need my support to make decisions in the best interest of my neighborhood?
- Are families in my neighborhood the stable, loving social units we need them to be to weather significant challenges?
Of course, nothing can replace the simple power of getting to know individual residents of your neighborhood. In the words of Christ Church parishioner Kim Akel, “There is nothing shiny or exciting about being neighborly. It starts with a smile, a wave, an acknowledgement when we see the other person. With each interaction, it gets a little deeper. We have an pop over anytime policy and welcome visitors any chance we can. What does the fragrance of Christ look like, coming from a home? I don’t know. But we pray the perimeter of our home, below it and above it, that it would bring glory to our Maker.”