A DIFFERENT WAY: HOW CAN WE HELP?

By JANICE SIX

A couple of years ago for Christmas my son and his wife gave me a framed quote from a song by the Avett Brothers. The quote reads, “Always remember there is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.” Whether speaking of our family name, or referring to our shared name as followers of Christ, the quote sings the same.

JaniceSixOne

Janice Six

In a world that seems to be spinning faster and faster and people are being flung from one continent to another, it’s so important that we not lose sight of who we are and to whom we belong. One Sunday morning a five-year-old child entered the foyer of the church after the worship service had already begun. Unlike most Sundays when she arrived, everyone had already entered the sanctuary. With a somewhat perplexed expression on her face, she looked up at her grandmother and asked in a rather loud voice, “Where are my people?”

Hearing of this thrilled me! Already at her young age, she knew she belonged. Around First Central Presbyterian Church (FCPC), we often refer to the congregation as the “church family” and we also use this same reference when speaking of the broader Christian community. In some congregations the terms “brother” and “sister” are used to convey this same sense of belonging to one another in Christ. Regardless our age, we all need a place to call home and more importantly, a people to call our own.

Last week I attended a luncheon hosted by Connecting Caring Communities. In attendance were pastors from several congregations, along with a few representatives of the City of Abilene and Chamber of Commerce. We sat around one large table, shared a meal then learned from representatives of an entity that calls itself 6Stones out of Hurst-Euless-Bedford area. They talked about the potential we have as a community when we all work together—nothing so new about this, but what caught my attention is the approach being advocated by them that begins by asking city officials and school administrators, “How can we help?” or “What do you need?” then listening to what they have to say. Rather than starting with a particular way a group may want to help, such as opening a soup kitchen, this model begins with an identified need followed by a plan for making it happen.

Our role as citizens and eager volunteers committed to making Abilene the best it can be, is to form a coalition consisting of individuals and groups representing people from all walks of life in Abilene. The more diverse we are as a coalition, the stronger we will be. The respect we offer everyone who wants to be included and involved in this effort will hopefully communicate the level ground on which we stand—no individual or group being of any greater importance than any other. Our willingness to work across denominational, political, and philosophical lines, will offer us the opportunity to demonstrate our oneness as a community.

Is this possible here in Abilene? Hopefully, but it will probably require a willingness on our part to set aside our individual designations and claim each other as kin—focusing on our shared identity as Abilenians, united for a common cause. If we can do this, we will more fully understand what the Avett Brothers mean when they sing, “…there is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.” Avett Brothers

For more information about the coalition being formed, contact Terry Cagle, Executive Director of Connecting Caring Communities, OFFICE@WECAREABILENE.ORG.

Janice Six is associate pastor of First Central Presbyterian Church

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