June 9, 2014 | 01:47 pm
Posted by Rev. Michael Bos

Old Neighbors, New Friends

Yesterday something historic happened. Volunteers from West End Collegiate Church and Shearith Israel joined together to help beautify--a.k.a. pull weeds--in Riverside Park. This might not sound like much, but it represents the oldest Protestant church (with continuous worship) in America collaborating with the oldest Jewish congregation in America. Unbelievably, we both started in the same loft above a mill on the lower tip of Manhattan. And now, over 350 years later, we are located less than a mile from each other on the Upper West Side!

As we pulled weeds and got to know one another, it reminded me how easy it is to live in a small bubble in the big city. We have the usual places we shop, the usual places we eat, and the usual friends we see. There is value in having a routine, but it also has a way of closing us off to new people and new experiences. 

In Romans it says, “Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, ‘How can I help?’” (15:2 The Message). If we want “to look after the good of the people” rather than look past them, we need shake up our routines by making new friends and collaborating in new ways. When we open ourselves in this way, we are opening our lives to the transforming presence of the Spirit of God.