Years ago there was a television show called Cheers. Much of its popularity had to do with the idea that regardless of what might be happening in the characters' lives, good or bad, these people had a place to go where they could be with friends. The show's opening song echoed this theme...

Sometimes you wanna go Where everybody knows your name And they're always glad you came You wanna be where you can see Our troubles are all the same You wanna be where everybody knows your name*

In some way, we all have this desire. I go to certain restaurants because when I walk through the door, they recognize me and smile. OK, maybe not the one where I dropped my tray of food or where I poked my finger into what I thought was a display of a plastic chocolate pie or the one... Well, there are two places where they smile. Eagle's Landing and Folks. (And no, this is not to get free food.)

They know me well enough to know I prefer a booth and, regardless of the time of day, I'd like a cup of coffee. But more than that, these are places where I can find some comfort just in a smile and a friendly voice. And on those rare occasions when I need to linger a bit longer, they don't run me off. They all may not know my name or a lot about me, but they recognize me...and that's pretty cool.

I've been thinking about this whole 'name-knowing' thing, especially as it relates to the Church and these times we're in. When I say Church, I mean the entire Family of God, not simply a local congregation, although each is certainly included. And by these times, just look around. What a horrible mess.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if...with all the sadness, worry, illness, anger, confusion, disappointment and tragedies in our lives…we had a place where everyone knows our name and they're always glad we came? A place where all our troubles may not be the same, but they're shared because everyone cares?

We may look to the First United Community Temples (local congregations) to provide this for us, but many fall short. It isn't that they don't want to, they just don't know how, and are often too proud to seek help. We find that far frequently in this ministry. But while they may have some responsibility, the real obligation lies in the Church, the entire Family.

Regardless of the gathering, location or whether we all attend the same service, it is the duty of the Family to provide that refuge, that safe haven. It may be through five people who get together at work, thirty-five in a Bible class, or a thousand and five in a congregation. It may even be through sharing across the Internet with a ministry like Ciloa.

It is our responsibility to seek for ourselves and provide for others that place of comfort. We are called to be friendly, reach out our hand, speak and, as much as we can, know the names of those around us. It is a perfect first step for encouraging and loving one another, one that can create something amazing.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

There will always be troubles, but every day you can smile at someone and speak a kind word, every day you can let the light of God shine in your life, and every day you can find that place where everyone knows your name. It is there with others in the Family. It here with us in Ciloa. It is beside the One who is with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Every day...you can! Take care and be God's,

Chuck Graham