Advent 2021

The Neighbour Next Door

Beth Burras,

Even though over 2000 years has passed since the word became flesh, it is still true today that Jesus is with us in our neighbourhoods. What is God saying to us about our own blocks, streets and estates this Christmas?

I’ve lived in my house for almost two years. It is a semi-detached house, and for the first 21 months of living there the adjoining house was empty, so it felt like we lived in a detached house as it was so quiet. As we were in the house so much due to periods of lockdown, we didn’t need to worry about the volume of our tv, or playing loud music, or hoovering too late (although did anyone actually hoover during lockdown? No house-guests!). Then in the autumn the house was sold, and I realised that this would mean neighbours, people who would share our walls.

What would they be like? What if they were loud? What if they had noisy pets, or their alarm went off at 6am blasting Dancing Queen by Abba? Would we get on?

Fast forward a few months and we have fabulous neighbours who are kind, and fun, and don’t seem to favour Swedish pop… why was I worried?

I reflected that it was my selfishness that lead to my fear; my desire to protect ‘my’ space, ‘my’ peace and quiet, which made me worry about new neighbours.

How do you view your neighbours? What if the people next-door, opposite, upstairs, downstairs were potential friends rather than strangers?

The scripture above says that God became flesh and ‘moved into the neighbourhood.’ How amazing that God came to live amongst us, like us, with us.

Do you remember the theme tune to the daytime soap Neighbours? “Everybody needs good neighbours.” Good neighbours are a real blessing. How can we be good neighbours where we live?

If Jesus is in us as Christians, He is in our homes, and He lives next-door to our neighbours! Do they know it? Have we told them? Would they know it from our actions, from our speech, from the way we conduct ourselves on the street or in the block?

As Jesus came to be present with us, how can we be present for those around us? Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that God, who is love, has moved into our neighbourhoods. He is Emmanuel, God with us, on our streets, in our blocks, on our estates and in our villages.

My prayer for you is firstly that this Christmas you realise afresh the gift of Emmanuel, God with you, Jesus moving into your neighbourhood. And secondly that you connect with your neighbours, finding ways to love and serve them.

Finally, in the words of the Australian soap-opera theme tune, that good neighbours would become good friends.

Bible Verse: 1 John 1:14 (MSG)

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