As a child in the suburbs of Virginia, I grew up knowing my neighbors, and they knew me. Regularly, I would walk through their yards to get to friends’ homes waving as I walked by, “Hello, Mr. Goff.”
“Hey there, Michael.” Mr. Goff always called the neighborhood kids by our parent’s names because he claimed we looked so much like our parents he couldn’t tell the difference. “How are the sisters and mom and dad?” He would make small talk as I stopped to chat for a few minutes, “Going to visit Judy and Dave?” Also not my friends’ names, but their parent’s names. “You girls stay out of trouble.”
Thirty years later, a walk through this neighborhood is filled with “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs. Waves to neighbors are sometimes met with a wave back, but not a lot of small talk and sometimes they’re ignored.
My neighborhood is similar. I notice as many of my neighbors return home from a day of work they quickly walk from their cars to their front doors trying not to make eye contact with anyone. On the occasions when I approach my neighbors to speak with them, I have noticed a sense of wonder on their faces as I walk toward them as if they are trying to figure out my motives before I speak.
Luckily I have broken down this wall with a few of my neighbors, and we go out of our way to say hello and even keep up with what is going on in each other’s lives. Unfortunately, nowadays, this is not the norm, and I would argue it takes a lot of work to accomplish.
No matter how hard it may be, we are called to this type of ministry — to “love our neighbor as ourself,” to “seek the good of others,” to “carry each other’s burdens,” to “show hospitality,” and to “value others above ourselves.”
Sweet Monday is a ministry that helps women do just that as they serve their local communities by inviting other women into their homes/churches/care facilities in the hopes of creating relationships that lead to connecting women to the life-changing gospel and then encouraging them to seek discipleship in the local church.
While this is the result we pray for in our ministry, there is so much more that I have seen Sweet Monday provide along the way. It has provided a supportive group of women to a woman in the midst of a divorce. It has provided refuge and rest to a woman carrying the heavy burden of being a caregiver for an aging parent. And it has provided friendships to many women who in their day-to-day lives feel so lonely in a broken world.