• First Presbyterian Church

What Can I Do to Love?

Updated: May 23, 2019

by Tim Haworth

This week was the most ridiculously cold week I can ever remember. And yet, my heart has never felt more warm.

This week I witnessed agape. That’s the love that Jesus calls us to exhibit towards God, ourselves and our neighbors. Agape is love that is by definition selfless, sacrificial and unconditional. That is what I saw this week. I saw people who moved beyond “what can I do to help” to “what can I do to love.”

I saw the staff of Helping Hands keep the emergency warming shelter open for more than 36 straight hours and the lobby of their main building open to accommodate those who had nowhere else to go. The staff showed agape love by braving the dangerous cold to leave their homes so others could find shelter. There were a number of other ministries and services that did the same and I am grateful for them as well.

I saw Julie at Help for the Homeless demonstrating unconditional agape love by combing the streets looking for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t use the shelters. She and many kind people who donated money, clothes, blankets and other items literally saved lives these cold nights.

I watched with great pride as the staff and volunteers of this church expressed the agape love of God to our neighbors. Our Food Pantry was open every scheduled day this week. And we did a booming business as people told us we were one of very few that were open. We announced that our social services desk would be closed on Wednesday in hopes that people would not venture out into the most dangerous cold. However, we knew that some would still come and our volunteer was there to receive the dozen or so that did come in need of services.

Our Food Pantry also served the community at large as well. Volunteers put together 20 bags of groceries for the folks being served by Help for the Homeless and 82 sack lunches that went to those who were staying at the warming center on Wednesday.

And my heart warms at the outpouring of agape love.

While I recognize and celebrate the love that was shown by so many in our community and church, this is not a victory lap. Now that the cold has moved on we don’t say “mission accomplished”. This was one difficult lap of many in this marathon of poverty, hunger and homelessness. The fact that people had needs so great that they were willing to go out in such brutal conditions for a bag of food is very telling. The food pantries and shelters provide for the immediate needs but to finish the marathon we need to also be actively looking at the bigger issues that leave people in these situations. Issues of racism, injustice and long established systems that create opportunities for poverty to exist that need to be dismantled.

These are HUGE issues that will take all of the elements of agape love – selfless, sacrificial and unconditional – to resolve. So lets keep running this marathon. And let’s keep asking “what can we do to love?”

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