By Sara-May Cardy
Last time, I talked about what it looked like for me to come to terms with the fact that God intentionally places us where we live. If I really believe that I live in my current apartment, community, city for a reason, what does it look like for me to put Jeremiah 29:5-6 into practice?
Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number, do not decrease (Jeremiah 29:5-6).
One of the things this has meant for me is to make my apartment feel like home. Hospitality is very important to me and if I am going to be in my community for a while, I need to make my home feel like somewhere people are welcome to come. It has also at times meant getting over my pride and still inviting people over even if my place isn’t as tidy as it could be. Sometimes my life is chaotic and it shows.
Another way that I have attempted to “settle down” is to create more space in my life to actually be present in my community. In a city that always seems to be running, being present is still a big work in progress. I have tried to be more intentional about reading the community newsletters that we get every month. If you’re not sure what is happening in your community, check to see if they have a presence on social media or if they have a website. Also, start to look for things that your city might already be doing that you can get involved in.
A couple years ago our city implemented an annual neighbour day in an attempt to help build a stronger sense of community in the city. For anyone that wants to connect with their neighbours more but isn’t sure how, this is a great platform to use.
The command to “plant gardens and eat what they produce,” in my mind can take a few different forms. I think it can be taken literally: take time to care for the land and grow your own food. Planting a garden is definitely a sign that you are putting roots down somewhere (both literally and figuratively).
Not everyone has a place for a garden though, or gardening skills (that would be me) so this verse has encouraged me to look more into the local food options I have either in the grocery store, farmers markets or through food collectives. Eating local is in general becoming more of a trend so I am finding this easier and more affordable to do and I have come to believe it is an important way to give back to our local economy.
I think this verse can also apply to areas besides food. How can this relate to good business practices? What does it look like for a business to be settled into its local economy? How can it be making a positive impact in the community/city in which it is based? This is a trend that seems to be happening outside of the church already so how much more should business people and creatives within the church be putting this into practice.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying there is anything necessarily wrong in buying imported food and goods (I really enjoy tropical fruit), but I do think that part of being a people that are FOR our cities and the locations that God has placed us does involve being more aware of how our purchases affect our local economy.
As far as verse 6 goes, I love the image that this portrays. We are to become so involved with the places God has put us that we get involved enough in community life to join our lives with theirs. I think the direction to “increase in number” is to remind us that isolating ourselves from those who may be different than us doesn’t help to further the movement of the gospel. If Christians only ever interact with themselves, we’ve lost the reason for why Christ lived, died and rose again.
Next time, I’ll get into what God has been teaching me through verse 7.