Rallying from Reply All

Our neighborhood block party was scheduled for Saturday night. But wouldn’t you know a few tornadoes would force us to re-schedule for Sunday night? Right after we were warned in worship this week to “Harness Hearsay.”

I do love the block party. It’s fun to catch up with people. Find out about the kids, the grand kids, the pets. To talk shop, jobs, ideas, accolades. (Three of our neighborhood Moms just completed the Tough Mudder Saturday!) To trade info on lawn services and painters and home improvement services. This is one of the places that community get togethers shine. At least on the surface.

But, ever since I outgrew the elementary bus stop I don’t get the regular scoop on the neighborhood goings-on. I am just not in the loop – except one day per year.  It is amazing the conversation that can emerge when neighbors get together for a block party.  Yesterday, I was on guard. Thanks very much to Tom Berlin who has us standing on guard against gossip and hearsay this week as part of our current sermon series: “Stung By the Tongue”.

Because the “reply all” video shown in worship took me back immediately to a similarly awkward moment for our neighborhood. We don’t have a Home Owners Association so some years back I gathered folks’ emails and phone numbers and kids names and ages and created a directory (Yes, hard copy) which has since been revised into an email distribution list. This is how we get the word out about various doings in the neighborhood – things like invitations to the block party.

Now, I won’t go into details because I imagine that would be considered gossip, but sometimes folks reply all to this block party invite. “I’ll be there.” “I’ll bring…” etc. But one year one of my neighbors replied to the list about a concern regarding the circumstances of another neighbors’ property, a neighbor they did not know. The wording was specific and to the point. Replies ensued. Replied all. The asking neighbor did not realize that said-neighbor was reading what was shared.

This absolutely challenged me. After all, I had provided the forum, if you will, for this transgression. I felt terribly. What I realized was that I had the peace-making tool at hand. Not my computer but my knock at their door. Which I did. And for this I am very grateful. Because when I sent out the invite for the block party email this year, this neighbor responded to me. In a kind, friendly fashion, sharing that she currently works in a location where I have recently been seeking business and hoped we could get together. She was totally gracious about getting the block party invite even though her family no longer resides in the neighborhood. 

Well, I am happy to say I did not engage in gossip at last night’s block party event, though I did wonder if everyone else heard those bells and whistles and heavenly horns blowing when the opportunity did present itself. Instead I met some relatively new neighbors who had to leave early so they could get to a local store to pick up the left-over bread and deliver it for Reston Interfaith. They do this twice a month. Who knew?

Isn’t it nice when you see folks living with such clarity? Though we may be unaware, it is most certainly true as Tom advised, “that we are the lens through which others look to see Christ.” Transparency and some good lens cleaner is all that’s necessary. Easier than it looks.


About wlebolt

Life comes at you fast. I like to catch it and toss it back. Or toss it up to see where it lands. I do my best thinking when I'm moving. And my best writing when I am tapping my foot to a beat no one else hears. Kinesthetic to the core.

Posted on September 10, 2012, in Sermon Response and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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