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McCoy: Playing Nice
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How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
Psalm 133:1 (New Revised Standard Version)

Have you ever heard someone say, "They love each other like brothers?" That usually means that the people being discussed have their agreements and disagreements, but they always stick together in the hard times. Well, having four boys in our house, I can tell you that brothers don't always get along, but when they do, it's wonderful. And you can bet that when something happens to one, they all come to the rescue. I have an older brother and sister, and recently my sister sent me a framed picture of "then" and "now" - an image from when we were very young along with an image of a recent get-together. When we were young, we would play together, and although she was a little older than I was, she would help me with things when I needed help. Every once in a while...OK, fairly often, we would get on each other's nerves and have to spend some time apart, but she was always there to stand up for me in time of trouble. And I remember on more than one occasion of our disagreements, mom would say, "Play nice" - meaning we had better get along or there would be unfortunate parental intervention.

Sometimes, even in our Christian family, we don't always see eye to eye with others. Sometimes we have trouble "playing nice" with others. People from different denominations may have some beliefs that differ from ours, and sometimes we tell jokes or rib others about who's wrong and who's right. But when we stand together, even agreeing to disagree about the less important things, we can get along with each other. In our community, we may struggle with racial or economic or political differences. I am certain that in the nation of Israel from the days of the Psalmist, not everyone agreed with everyone else. In fact, show me even a handful of people who always agree on everything, and I will show you a great deal of compromise. Sometimes, we have to just put aside our differences and stand together as brothers and sisters. We can't spell "community" without the word "unity." How wonderful it is when we can all get together, forgiving each other for our shortcomings and loving each other through our difficulties.
On Saturday, Aug. 11, we will have an opportunity to "play nice" with others in the community as we come together to pray together for one of our major common concerns - the new school year. Each of us is touched in some way by the school systems, public or private, and each of us can pray for those who help shape the lives of so many children and youth as well as for the students themselves. As we come together at 7 p.m. on the square, let's remember to "play nice" with each other as we gather together to pray for each other. This will be a great opportunity to show that we do have "unity" in our community.

Where do we need to accept those who don't necessarily agree with us? Where can we ask God to help us to have unity in our community?

Rev. Jan McCoy is the associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at