Trinity News and Sermons

09/07/14 Sermon Bullets

  • “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among you.” We use these words so often in our Christian lives – sometimes as a joke or consolation when not many show up for a bible study or worship. But we forget the context in which they are found in the Bible!
  • Jesus is talking about church discipline – something that biblical scholars believe must have been an issue in the early church – for it appears prominently here in Matthew’s gospel.
  • This week, in our Outdoor worship, someone spoke of why folks don’t come to church – or don’t want to be Christian. “Who wants to be a part of THAT organization? They are a bunch of hypocrites. They say one thing, but live a totally different way!”
  • It is true that the church if filled with flawed persons. Even pastors! We are humans, and as such, we are sinners. As the saying goes when talking about the church: This is not so much a household of saints as it is a hospital for sinners!
  • Christians DO disagree with each other – sometimes for good reasons – various views of Christianity, directions the church/congregation are taking, etc. Sometimes for NOT so good reasons – EGO that gets in the way, kingdom mentality that this is MY CHURCH (instead of acknowledging that it is CHRIST’S CHURCH.)
  • But Jesus is talking about much more than what goes on inside the church building or the congregation’s life. He is talking about the way that Christians treat each other. Even St. Paul advises that we should not take each other to court, for that is not a very good witness to the outside world of those who follow the path of love.
  • Hear the words of St. Paul in our 2nd lesson today: 8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”
  • Love is at the heart of how we are to act and what it means to follow Jesus Christ.
  • I remember hearing the story of a pastor who was working with a very troubled congregation a number of years ago, and there were MAJOR arguments in congregational meetings. He said, “You can disagree, but do you have to be so disagreeable???”
  • That is the point. We can have differences of opinions about many things – but do we treat each other with respect? Do we take the time to LISTEN to the other person, not just prepare our response/reaction to what they say?
  • One of the things that I mourn is the fact that we don’t teach Civics in school anymore. When I was in Junior High (a million years ago, I know!) I had the pleasure of learning from “Tat” Bagby about how the discourse in the United States was centered on two differing views of the way society was to be organized – here in the USA, mostly Democratic and Republican. And in learning about this, we students learned that one may have VERY different opinions from the “opposing” side, but that there were at least TWO different ways of viewing the world.
  • In our society today, in politics, religion and just the general world, we seem to have lost this art of discourse. We seem to have lost respect for each other. When we have disagreements with each other, we want to do all that we can to tear down the other, or demonize.
  • As we look at our world, and see opposing forces literally killing each other because of their differences, especially in religious beliefs or interpretation of the revelation from above, these words today of St. Paul and Jesus are words we should welcome.
  • Have a disagreement with someone? Don’t triangulate and tell everyone else and tear down that person’s reputation. Sit down with them and talk with them. Reason with them. If that does not work – take some others with you and sit and TALK. (Not argue.) If that does not work, then take it to the larger governing board. And if that does not work, then separate.
  • And in the midst of all of it: Owe no one anything except to love one another.
  • Can we do this? Can we see the face of Christ in each other – even when we disagree with each other – sometimes strongly? Can we see that that person with whom you vehemently disagree is ALSO a child of God, created in the image of our mutual Creator?
  • I look at the news and often feel powerless, as we find various groups against each other: Christians vs. Muslims, Israelis vs. Palestinians, Shiite Muslims vs. Sunni Muslims, Ukrainians vs. Russians, various tribes and nations in Africa fighting with each other, Christians vs. other Christians – all FIGHTING and KILLING and DESTORYING whole villages and societies.
  • What can I do?
  • I can seek peace within my own heart. I can strive to be at one with the Creator and his loving Son Jesus.
  • I can become a peacemaker in my own life – with my family, at work, at play, in my church.
  • I can LISTEN and engage in conversation with those who are different from me.
  • I can literally breathe and count to 10 before I respond, thus allowing my body to relax a bit.
  • I can speak softly rather than scream.
  • I can be the best witness I can to my faith by the way I conduct myself at home, in church and the larger society.
  • I can love. I can love even those with whom I disagree. I can be like Christ, loving – even those who persecute me! I can love. I can love. I can love.