Last month in Hillsboro, religious leaders from the area joined to celebrate "With Hope and Thanksgiving" at the 20th annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner, benefiting Family Promise of Washington County. The event was hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was an evening of reflection, song, and spiritual messages.
Though these leaders came from diverse faiths and traditions, one overriding theme united their messages: part of being grateful for our own well-being is an obligation to help others who are not as fortunate. Family Promise is an excellent example of this concept, with its dedication to serving homeless children and families in Washington County.
I've been thinking a lot about the messages from the Interfaith Dinner during this holiday season. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I've been encouraged by my own leaders to "Light the World" this month — specifically, to seek those in need, and to serve in whatever way I can.
Taken in a global context, this charge can seem overwhelming. I feel that anxiety every day as I look through social media or the news; there is just so much need. Where do I begin? But following the example of the religious leaders who spoke last month, I've realized that maybe what's important for me — and for each of us — in lighting the world is to begin by lighting our world.
We can start by looking in our families, our schools, our communities, and finding where we can best fill the greatest need. We don't even need to look very far; if you're not already connected to an organization that might need your service, you can quickly look at JustServe.org for opportunities right here in Hillsboro and Washington County. Places like the Oregon Food Bank, Salvation Army, Saving Grace Maternity Home and more have detailed listings of ways local community members can help.
And the ways we help are going to be different for everyone. We each have different capacities, resources, and circumstances. One person might be able to read each week with a child through the SMART program, while someone else might not. But it's important to remember that light can shine from even the smallest gestures — a smile, time to listen, a shoulder to lean on.
As we feel gratitude for our own well-being, grow more conscious of the needs around us, and begin to light our world, I do believe that light will radiate to the world at large. And not just at Thanksgiving, and not just at Christmas, but all year long.
Stacey Nerdin is a Hillsboro resident.
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