Who is my neighbor?
What do a pumpkin, plum and a lemon have in common?
First Presbyterian Church Pastor, Dr. Jim Birchfield, began his talk at a Middle School Chapel in the 2012-2013 school year with this opening question. The answer to the question was imbedded in three differing stories of people from other countries that served to challenge our students with the thought, "Who is my neighbor?"
Dr. Birchfield made the point that our world is now interconnected; no longer is our neighbor confined to the person who lives next door to us or lives in our neighborhood. The question has wider implications today, than it had when the teacher of the law asked Jesus how to define his neighbor. Jesus' answer was that the one who is neighborly has mercy on a person in need. We are called today to respond to our neighbors half way around the world because their need solicits a response to it.
Dr. Birchfield educated students on the fact that most average incomes for households in Third World countries are less than the allowance that our students receive. In his story about the pumpkin, one African man asked Dr. Birchfield what Americans do with the carved pumpkins after Halloween night? Dr. Birchfield replied that most folks throw away their pumpkins. The African man could not fathom throwing away anything that could be used for food. Dr. Birchfield questioned the students at the end of telling this story if that man is our neighbor?
In his story about the plum, Dr. Birchfield spoke about a little boy who lived on a garbage dump who had a plum given to him. He waited a long time before eating the plum, so Dr. Birchfield asked if he liked plums? The boy did, indeed, like plums, but he was waiting to see with whom he would need to share it. These stories remind us that many of our neighbors have little, and we are called to pray for them and to consider how to have mercy on them.
The final object referred to by Dr. Birchfield was a lemon. The story refers to students in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades in a school in Southern California. They decided to make a difference in Malawi by raising money themselves. The children set up lemonade stands, sold cookies and firewood to collect funds. They raised the staggering amount of $20,000 dollars for the needs of children there.
Dr. Birchfield asked the students upon closing his talk, "What is the point of these stories?" He offered that these stories compel us to be interested in our neighbors who live near us and those who live half a world away. He encouraged them to think about their ability to change the world in small ways with love. They could begin to see the potential within themselves to take seriously the command to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
HOW CAN I help my houston neighbor?
Our students are honored to provide service to many local neighboring organizations during the school day. A list of community service opportunities is provided below for families who would like to continue serving outside of Presbyterian School. Please contact Chaplain, Jo Leever, if you have any questions or would like to add a contact to our consortium of service organizations.
5015 Fannin, Houston, Texas 77004
MSM would love casseroles to be donated for clients to enjoy on Thursday nights when they have dinner and worship.
Direct H.O.P.E.: Helping the Homeless
PS student, Brock McEldowney (Class of 2017), and his mom, Delaina Mulcahy, serve the homeless each week. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to volunteer.