Neighbors in My Jerusalem


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I’ve lived in my neighborhood for almost five years. I know the names of my neighbors who live next to me and across the street. I know the first and last names of the homeowners association board members, and I know the first names of a handful of others. Some I recognize from repeated sightings at the neighborhood pool. But I’ve never had a neighbor over for dinner, nor have I been invited over to dinner at a neighbor’s house. On a few occasions, I have brought meals to those who were sick or just moved in, but the relationships ended there.

I remember living in New Jersey as a young child, sitting around the table with my mom at one of the neighbor’s across the street. I watched as the man brought his coffee cup to his lips, and I was intrigued by his pinky that he kept curling under. I eventually realized that he was missing part of that finger. Jim and Diane lived next door, and when I watch old home videos of Christmas, they are there. Jim was loud on the videos, fitting right in with family. Diane sat laughing at the goofiness. After seeing my mom push the stroller with my sister while I walked next to her in the cold one time too many, they donated an old Volkswagen bug to my family–the car that caused a few fights as my dad tried to teach my mom to drive a stick.

And there were other neighbors, neighbor kids whom my mom babysat, and neighbors who took me for a ride in the little box that attached to their motorcycle. And there were neighbors who were always ready to share cake and coffee.

I don’t know what made that neighborhood in New Jersey so different, but I don’t ever remember my family having those kinds of relationships again when we moved to Georgia nor have Matt and I formed those kind of friendships in any of our homes. Maybe life got busier for everyone. Maybe the newer houses without front porches and with attached garages encouraged people to drive in their homes and not come out. Whatever the reason, even though I was only a young girl at the time, I miss having those kind of neighbors.


“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, New International Version, 2011)

This Sunday our pastor explained that Jerusalem was the disciples’ neighborhood. Judea was the surrounding area, like people in our own area code. Samaria was an area full of people with whom they wouldn’t normally associate, people who made them uncomfortable. And, of course, the ends of the earth included lands they had never seen.

I know more about the little boy we sponsor in the Philippines than my next-door neighbor. I’ve done more to help people in remote African villages than those who are unemployed in my own neighborhood. But perhaps God would like to use me in my Jerusalem. Perhaps there is a little girl who needs to form the memory of sitting around a neighbor’s kitchen table while her mom enjoys a nice cup of coffee.

It doesn’t seem too hard…and while I don’t make coffee, I can bake a darned good cake. Maybe I’ll start there.



Linking up today with Michelle and Jen. Do you have childhood memories of your neighbors? Do you really know your neighbors now? How have you reached out to those in your neighborhood?


13 thoughts on “Neighbors in My Jerusalem

  1. A very good point, Jennifer. It's an unfortunate development in our modern culture, but one that hopefully can be overcome.


  2. We've lived in this neighborhood for 6 years and we don't know any of our neighbors. It's a very quiet/keep to yourself kind of place. I wish it were different.


  3. Hi Jennifer
    As you know I live in Israel – real time. I lived in Judea for 12 years in a relatively small community of 400 families. While I didn't know most, I certainly knew all my neighbors, and often shared with them (except for one not very sociable fellow).
    I now live in Jerusalem for 3 years ( 20 minute walk from the Old City) and feel real blessed to be doing that. Yet, Jerusalem is a city, and harder to know so many neighbors.
    I will say that with neighborhood and community friends we share meals almost every Shabbath and Holidays. It may sound like a lot, but every week it is either sharing, blessing, singing, learning and enjoying shared company together.
    I am sure for all it is the highlight of the week – we plan for it.


  4. This is great. Yes, I do have those childhood memories, and now I'm not forming them. My boys have a few but since they've all flown the nest, that connection with neighbors is diminishing. Our church is emphasizing neighborhood groups…you've convicted me! Thanks, Jennifer.


  5. My mom was good about connecting with the neighbors, and I think she passed that down to me. I don't think you're alone. I think a lot of people are just sitting in their homes, waiting for someone to extend an invitation. When you bake that cake and open your front door, I'll bet you'll be surprised to see what God will do. I can't wait to hear all about it!


  6. My best friend {who goes to your church} and I were just talking about this sermon today. We've lived in this neighborhood for 8 1/2 years & don't know any of our neighbors other than the "wave when you drive by" or small talk on Halloween. It's really a shame & I need to make more of an effort to get to know them.


  7. I have very friendly neighbors. Our kids play together outside, they stop by and hang out. But mine is no ordinary neighborhood…it's a military housing area. As families who move frequently, I guess we all know how to bloom where we're planted. Fast. I've lived here less than a year and I've been in at least 12 neighbors' homes for dinner, bunco, book club, tea, wine, parties or "just to chat" (that's counting off the top of my head while looking out my front window). It's a little like Mayberry meets Wisteria Lane. 😉 And I count my neighbors among the blessings of military wife life.


  8. I always thought that it was just me, but from the looks of the comments, many struggle with getting to know their neighbors. I can't figure out what happened in our culture to make it so difficult.

    My neighbors have made it their business to pull us out of our shell. They've "forced" themselves on us in a good way. I consider them fine neighbors and have written about them on my blog periodically. Once I get "jogged" out of homebody complacency I'm a good neighbor. But visiting someone cold turkey is still beyond my reach. It requires a miracle.


  9. Love this! Just tonight, our neighbors who just had a baby came by to return the dishes from when we took dinner to them. And as we chatted, we decided that we should actually eat together at some point — forming some of those lasting bonds within our neighbor — just because, we are neighbors. Lovely post!


  10. I love this post, Jennifer — such important wisdom here for us 21st century neighbors. I, too, enjoyed a childhood of close neighbors. My best friend lived one house down, and her family and mine were extremely close. We also had big neighborhood block parties on July 4, Labor Day and Memorial Day, where everyone brought a dish and grilled and played croquet and badmitton.

    Now we are blessed to live in a very neighborly neighborhood. My kids sit on Karna and John's front porch and pet their cat while they eat popcicles. We often chat on the sidewalk and over the front porch rails (maybe it IS a front porch thing?), and every fall Karna and John host a neighborhood brunch on their driveway (and they get a huge turnout every year — we wear nametags so we can get to know each other's names better!). Maybe you and Matt could begin something like that? We make flyers and leave them in mailboxes a couple weeks prior. Everyone brings a dish to share; Karna and John provide the coffee. It's really a wonderful, wonderful thing.


  11. I remember playing with all the neighborhood kids when I was younger, we'd have picnics and spend the night at each other's houses and everything. I don't feel like it's like that anymore- everyone stays put in their backyard. And yes, I often also feel like I do much more for the people in far off lands than for people that are so close to me here at home.


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