I totally didn't go on the bouncy castle after church this morning, well not until I'd intimidated the little kids off of it first; I was only thinking of them I wouldn't have wanted to land on them.
Our church hosted a Big Lunch where we invited the families from the toddler group and coffee shop to join us, and after the service we had face painting, pool tournament, balloon modelling, loom bands and the aforementioned bouncy castle!
The idea behind it is to build community and for neighbours to get together with each other in their streets and share lunch together and bond I guess! It's true not many neighbourhoods do this, I know in our street we had a shindig for the Queens jubilee as did most of the country, but aside from that I can probably count on one hand the times since then I've had a conversation with any of my neighbours.
This was highlighted to me last week as I watched the final episode of Benefits Street, seen by some as 'poverty porn', to me I saw people who cared about each other and looked out for one another and actually knew their neighbours and their needs. None more so than Julie's friend Sue, who went door to door collecting loose change from the residents to pay for Santa and his reindeer to visit Kingston Road, and in particular Julie's severely disabled son Regan. Remember, this is Benefits Street, most of the people featured were unemployed, scraping money together to feed metres, but they were more than happy to donate to see Regan's dream realised, because they knew him and they cared.
It may be because they aren't rushing off to work each morning that they are able to forge these bonds, but I started to feel sad that in my street would I be aware of someone genuinely in need, and if I was would I do something about it?
It's somewhat easy to offer hospitality to the community from the security of our church and that's definitely a good thing to do, but how can we, if we live in a street where most head off to work daily, build a rapport with our neighbours in which we can understand their needs and offer that hospitality where needed?