“‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” Zechariah 3:10

Vines provided sustenance and food. So did fig trees. But their large leaves also provided a cool place out of the sun and a place of respite and prayer. To invite a neighbor to sit under one was to offer them the ultimate hospitality.

Today, we often do not know our neighbors. We text and like posts of people we have met in cyberspace and ignore the ones who moved in next door or down the street. Everyone is so mobile — houses are sold, people move, and tenants pack up and head elsewhere. Why bother getting to know them?

One time, when I was new to the neighborhood and newly married, I made up invitations and slapped them on the front doors of neighboring people. "Come meet us," it said. There was an invitation to a potluck. Few showed up.

A few neighbors made apologies due to kids’ sporting events or working late. I was crushed. But I began to reach out one by one. After a while, we felt more comfortable inviting each other inside for a cup of coffee, eventually into the backyard for a barbeque, and finally to the dinner table.

At Christmas, we may get the urge to invite people to worship, and then get disappointed when they don’t show up. What if one of our New Year’s resolutions was to get to know them a bit first? Learn their needs, questions and misgivings. Help them with a task. Bring them a meal. Mow their grass. Then, just maybe, by next Christmas, if they are still around the neighborhood, they will come with us and, having known the branches (us), will sit under the loving embrace of the Vine.

Lord, help us reach out to our neighbors this year and be your hands and feet to them, even if it is not Christmas. Let us present you by presenting ourselves so we can learn what will help draw them to you. This we pray dear Christ, Amen.

TAKE ACTON

Make an effort to get to know one or two of your neighbors, and let them begin to know you as a Christian.

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