Don’t be in debt to anyone, except for the obligation to love each other. Whoever loves another person has fulfilled the Law. The commandments, Don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t desire what others have, and any other commandments, are all summed up in one word: You must love your neighbor as yourself. Love doesn’t do anything wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is what fulfills the Law.
Matthew 18:15-20 (CEB)
“If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister. But if they won’t listen, take with you one or two others so that every word may be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses. But if they still won’t pay attention, report it to the church. If they won’t pay attention even to the church, treat them as you would a Gentile and tax collector. I assure you that whatever you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. And whatever you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven. Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.”
Reflection: Recently I was part of a conversation that discussed how much clergy members "hold in," "don't talk about it," and sometimes, "can't really talk about it." There's a degree of confidentiality to our ministries that also means it is difficult for us to process some of our own feelings and situations. We may not want to talk about our fears or sadness about our dying grandmother, because they come out of the experience we recently had with someone at the hospital, and so we have to protect confidences. While the nature of our ministries does require us to keep confidences, and that is a valid hurdle over which clergy must jump, I would argue that the nature of church has also become to "hold it in," "don't talk about it," because you "can't talk about it," without making someone upset. So its not just the nature of clergy and their ministry, its the nature of the church to avoid, avoid, avoid.
Church conflict is no stranger to most churches. Even if it is seemingly, "minor" conflict, church conflict is still difficult to navigate for any congregation, and impossible to hide from. That being said, so many churches have simply resorted to not talking about it, sweeping it under the rug, and assuming that it will blow over, because we don't want to stir the pot.
For too long, this passage in Matthew has been used as a way to ostracize individuals who are in disagreement with one another; Or, the very end of this passage is simply used as a platitude to remind us that God is "here" when two or three are gathered together. However, this passage is neither an opportunity to kick out members of the church who disagree with you, nor simply a phrase that you can just hang in a pretty frame and hope it works. This passage of scripture is a call to be church together, and to truly see the Christ in one another, especially when there is disagreement.
ALL - and when we say all, we mean all! - are welcome here to worship on Sunday morning. We hope you will come together to truly see the Christ in one another as sing, pray, talk, love and support one another in our worship, and as we discuss this difficult passage of scripture. Worship just isn't the same without you!