Go local!

“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.” Matthew 4:18

He greeted me with a grin and said that he was glad I was ok. It had been a while.

When I moved away, it hadn’t occurred to me to say a proper goodbye to my local shopkeeper. Although I’d popped in regularly for years, I just didn’t think he’d notice my absence from his world.

His warm welcome reminded me of the preciousness of being part of that neighbourhood. In that patch of common ground, some people had put down deep roots while others shot up just for a time; all blossomed and yielded fruit in season and together formed a dependable grapevine of knowledge and resources. Shopping locally was a great way to get to know that community and be known within it.

Going local is pretty trendy these days. The problem is I can’t afford my new neighbourhood’s version of it. I’ve heard that my local butcher, estate agent, and independent wine merchant have their fingers on the pulse and know everything that’s happening on my doorstep. But regular game pie, property and fine merlot are currently too high a price to pay.

Instead, I’ve simply decided that every time I need a pint of milk I’ll go to the same shop to buy it. The people on the till may not own the business or know everyone and everything, but they’ll be there every day and hopefully, over time, the transactional will become relational as we get to know each other.

As Jesus was walking along in time and place, he interacted with those around him. This was no abstract incarnation but a God who, as the over-quoted paraphrase goes, moved into the neighbourhood and chatted to the local fishermen.

What does it look like for us, in our own little corners of the world, to go and do likewise?


Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Choose a shop in your neighbourhood which will be the one that you’ll go to most regularly. Start getting to know the people who work there and think of some good questions to ask them about your shared local community.
  • Join Streetbank to make initial connections with people who live near you and to get plugged into what’s going on in your neighbourhood.

 

(This was originally published in a much more beautiful format here as part of Stewardship’s 40acts: do lent generously movement. It’s not too late to sign up here!)

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