Some folks I know here in Kansas City recently told me a story.
A young couple who had lived in the heart of downtown among other hipster urbanites bought a house two and a half years ago in an older suburb with a quaint small town feel. Their dress, their politics, their beliefs, their interest in the arts—all made them stand out a little bit from their neighbors.
Two and a half years went by—and no neighbor said hello, no neighbor started a conversation. One set of neighbors even turned their backs every time they saw them walking down the street.
So they decided to fight back.
With sugar cookies.
This year, they made several batches of cookies, wrapped them up, and hand delivered them to their neighbors with cards that read, Thanks for being great neighbors!, determined to “deliver holiday cheer if it’s the last thing they do!”
They ended up having lovely visits with three of their four sets of neighbors. As for the fourth set, the ones who always turn their backs— the husband didn’t open the door more than a crack, and the wife stood several feet away, looking horrified at the strange young people at their door.
But at least the door opened a crack, right?
I’ve been thinking about this story since I heard it. All three Abrahamic traditions connect the act of being a neighbor with the experience of being a stranger:
Why are we good neighbors? Because we have all been strangers, wanderers, different, alone.
What does it mean to see the Christ? To see the outcast, the hungry, the poor.
Why give to the poor? Because that is what God calls us to do.
At the root of our movement of Courageous Compassion is a call to be neighborly. From Louisville to Pakistan, whether you help us respond to torrential rain or a church break-in, you are reaching out as a neighbor to people you may never meet. You come vulnerable, giving of yourself, as much a stranger to those you help as they are to you.
Why not take a chance and give of yourself? Why not reach out with Courageous Compassion?
There might even be sugar cookies involved.