“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” These are words from Jesus to His people in Matthew 5. This is who we are as a local church-as a community of Christ followers. But what does that look like in practice? If someone is stumbling around in the dark and they see a light, what do they do? They move toward it; they are drawn to the light. How about cities? People throughout the world are moving toward cities in unprecedented numbers. For many reasons (jobs, culture, opportunities, etc.), people are drawn to the light of cities; compelled to move toward them. Now, apply this principal to our homes. The light of Christ is glowing within our homes as our families and Small Groups share life there. The Spirit is at work in living rooms. The Good News is celebrated and applied to each other’s lives around the kitchen table. Christ is present on the back porch. So think of each Living Hope home as a city on a hill. Is the light within on display or is it hidden? As Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 5, have we hidden our lamp under a basket or put it on a stand?
Every few weeks we will look at stories of people attempting to use their home as a city on a hill, opening up to neighbors and friends outside of the church – practicing hospitality, or “welcoming the stranger” as the Bible describes it. One way to begin is simply inviting your street, neighborhood, or cove to a party or meal at your house. To many, this seems overwhelming and scary – understandably, a little uncomfortable. Living Hope elder Ron Favaloro and his wife Debbie have been doing this for the last few years, and here is a little of their story.
How did you get started? We live on a cove with 13 homes. For years, we hosted our Sunday School classes from a former church in our house for a Christmas brunch. But in 2015 we wanted to get to know our neighbors better and decided that the Christmas brunch would be a great way to do that. We have also added a summer BBQ in the cove, and have asked our Small Group to join forces with us in blessing our neighbors.
What has the response been? Many have expressed gratitude for the chance to meet more neighbors. For each party we can usually expect 20-30 people; this year we had 23 from the cove. We have also made our parties a Collierville Cop Stop, and this year we had 7 officers stop by. Our neighbors are thankful for the opportunity to show love to our local police, and the officers have said they feel the love. This year we also had 2 brand new families in the neighborhood attend, giving them a chance to make connections they may not have made otherwise.
What did you do? Debbie designed an invitation and hand-delivered them to each neighbor, making the invitation in person when possible. The police were notified by the administrator of the Collierville Cop Stop Facebook page. We served bacon, sausage, waffles, breakfast casserole, juice, and lots of coffee. Most everything was made ahead of time and reheated. Ron manned the waffle maker on demand! When neighbors asked “What can I bring?” we told them to bring goodies for the officers to take away. Debbie and Ron took the leftovers to the Collierville Police Station. For the Summer BBQ, we just drag the grill into the cove and have everyone bring side dishes while we flip burgers and brats. These gatherings take planning and work, but it is always fun and satisfying to practice hospitality. We have loved watching our neighborhood become a closer community over the years. And bringing our Small Group family into the mix has provided more hands for the work and more opportunities to talk about Christ and the reason that we choose to open our home.