Each week 2 persons from our staff visit a different downtown business with a few Centenary balloons, a loaf of banana nut bread and a notecard that all of our staff have signed and prayed over. Why in the world would we do this? This is the church staff’s way of living into our Vision Statement that calls us to Love our Neighbors. And let me tell you, it has been an interesting and fun experience for us. Let me share a few stories so you can imagine the impact of such a small gesture.
A few weeks ago Doug and I took our bread and balloons to Frogman Interactive, a new marketing company that moved in right across from us on 4th Street (also owned by our very own David Caudle!) We entered into the beautifully redone office space where all of the desks were in the center of the room with shared work space among about 12 employees. When we entered one person stood up and came over to us but 12 pairs of eyes began peaking over their computers at us, getting more curious as we explained our gifts. One person even exclaimed “Is that for us?!” We shared that we were from Centenary UMC and we simply wanted to say hello and offer these gifts as a reminder that we have prayed over them this week and that we are glad to be their neighbor. By the time we were done explaining ourselves every single one of the employees (all looked like they were under the age of 35) walked over to shake our hands with big smiles on their faces. What a wonderful moment to bring a moment of joy into the lives of these neighbors.
And then there was the time Stacy and I delivered balloons and bread to Tropical Smoothie further down on 4th Street. We went at lunchtime and when customers saw what we were doing they asked where we were from and exclaimed “how cool!”. Smiles everywhere as we walked back out of the door.
And then when Martha and Jeremy delivered to Tattoo Design Archive they learned that they actually house a museum of beautiful artwork (I assume that can be turned into a tattoo) but were so gracious (with purple hair and tattoo sleeve) in explaining their business that several of us want to go back and take time to go through the museum.
Of course not everyone gets excited when we arrive but just about everyone is pleasantly surprised by the unexpected gesture. Our hope is that very soon, all of those businesses that we have delivered to might join us for an informal gathering of neighbors to just say hello and see how we can be better neighbors to one another. I don’t know if anyone will come, but we want to try and provide 4th Street with an opportunity to connect with one another.
We think it is important that Centenary find ways to be a spiritual presence in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the downtown rebirth. In fact we have a unique opportunity to be a spiritual voice and bring the love of Jesus into our surrounding community. And we won’t do that effectively without going to actually see and meet our neighbors. And, it’s just flat-out fun to bring smiles to people’s face with a random act of kindness.
If you would like to bake bread for us that would be awesome! If you would like to help do a delivery let us know! Our plan is to keep working our way through the list the Chamber of Commerce gave us until we have connected with all of the businesses on 4th and some on 5th and Trade Streets (we may define “downtown” loosely). And maybe this is a prompting for you to think about who your neighbors are and how you might show a little love. After all, Jesus said it was part of the greatest commandment.
Grace and Peace,