Pay attention to the content of character

Big weekend for Sheridan County. This week, a lot of families and friends come from near and far to gather to enjoy the rodeo, the parade, the street dance, school reunions, and, maybe, even a little time for worship, which raises interesting questions about our home town.

What draws people to Sheridan County? What brings the kids back? What attracts visitors to spend time here? What persuades people to say goodbye to their home and seek to establish new roots in our town?

When you think about the qualities of life here in Sheridan, we do enjoy the blessings of a pleasant community. But, what makes for a pleasant, meaningful community? I read somewhere that one of the qualities people look for in a community is water: a lake, a river, the ocean. Apparently, we humans are attracted to the sounds of water calling our name.

A lot of us who call Sheridan home would probably add “the mountains” to our list of qualities that make a place really inviting with staying power, along with good jobs, schools, medical care, music, theater, church, the absence of apathy, evidence of working together and some additional things on our personal list.

It’s obvious we have a long way to go on the population percentage of racial diversity of Sheridan County, but, hopefully, most of us are intentionally working at burying our prejudices as childish and seeking to be openly friendly with all people, no matter the color of skin.

Fortunately, we have the wisdom of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the great spiritual leaders of our country, who encouraged us to pay attention to the content of character —– including our own character — when making judgments about people.

St. Paul, writing to the churches in Galatia (now southern Turkey), urged the church to pay attention to what kind of community they were building. Essentially, he preached, “Don’t build your community grounded in idolatry, anger, jealousy, injustice, lack of self control and petty side taking.

Build your community on the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” (summary of Galatians 5:19-23)

Good advice for all of us in Sheridan County, don’t you think?

 

The Rev. Doug Goodwin serves as pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in downtown Sheridan.