Posts Tagged ‘agree’

Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. (2 Corinthians 13:11-13, NRSV)

Easier said than done right?

Live in peace, agree with one another…

Not always easy, but it is what Christ calls us to.

And He will be with us to help us do that.

So let His peace overflow your life so the world might live in peace.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. (Psalms 133:1-3 ESV)

Have you ever done something with a group of people and you were all in sync and it worked so well and God’s love and mercy flowed from y’all like a mountain stream?

Remember how it felt to be in the unity of that moment?

Now think back, did you agree about everything with every other person in that group? Probably not, but you were united in the mission before you, and that is where the joy came. That is what made the event good and pleasant and allowed God’s mercy and love to flow like streams from the mountain.

It is like dew from Hermon, or the mountain… That sweet mountain dew! I remember how I use to drink mountain dew all the time. To me it was nectar of the gods… It was great and I loved it. Still do but now it is way too sweet for me to drink it, except diet… But to me that is how we live in unity, by making sweet mountain dew and fulfilling God’s mission, not agreeing on everything, but focusing on what unites us and moving forward in that mission.

So be united to the body of Christ and allow the good pleasant mission of God to happen in and through you.

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’ For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’ After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ (John 13:1-17,31-35 NRSV)

Maundy Thursday is the start of the Three Days that lead us to Easter…

We get the institution of the sacrament of the altar, or Holy Communion, or Eucharist. Giving thanks for the great sacrifice we have received from our Lord.

But today is also the day of the new commandment… Maundy comes from the Latin word for commandment. We are commanded to love one another. Jesus does not say to the disciples, “if you feel like it, show some love.” Nor does He say, “love those who do everything you like.”. You see Jesus had just washed the feet of the disciples, all of the disciples. That included Judas, who John paints as the bad guy. Jesus washed the feet of the man who handed Him over to be killed.

You see Jesus in the final meal with His students, He becomes the low one and takes on the role of slave, or servant and serves all. Those who did not understand His ways, or do things as He hoped they would. He washed the feet of Peter, who objected, and tomorrow will deny Him. The disciples were not the sharpest bunch, but Jesus served them and loved them.

We see in this we do not have to agree with, understand, like, or do what others do, but we do have to love them. We have to love them as Jesus loved us. He accepted us as we were…

1 Corinthians 11:17-22 (NRSV)

Abuses at the Lord’s Supper

Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, to begin with, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and to some extent I believe it. Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine. When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you!

The abuses of the Lord’s supper in Corinth were severe. People were neglecting their call to look out for the least, the forgotten. They were looking out for themselves. Eating all of the bread before others arrived and drinking all the communion wine and getting drunk. But is that really all there is to this passage?

Paul says a whole lot more here. We gather as a body of believers not for ourselves or for the betterment of the better off, but the worse off. (This includes all of us, because better and worse off is in the eyes off God not man) We are to gather for others not our own good. We gather as a Christian community for the other not so we get something out of it. You may go to worship and get nothing, but be the one thing someone struggling needed that day.

Divisions in the gathering? Never! As believers we agree 100% of the time, that is why there are so many different denominations with different beliefs… Paul says it is ok for there to be factions otherwise we are not genuine. And do you want to know why there are not as many young people in our gatherings today? It is because they know we are not genuine. We are fake hen we go to worship because we think if we do not agree with everybody else and completely follow along we will be removed from the gathering. Genuine people disagree and that is the way life is and the way our gatherings should be. We are freed in the love of God to disagree with each other and still move ahead in God’s ministry and mission in the world.

So gather together as genuine people. Discussing your thoughts and ideas and dreams and do not neglect the last, lost, least or little among you, because we are all lost and last and little and least at some point.

I sit at my desk and prayerfully consider a statement to simply state my Biblical and pastoral understanding of the ELCA’s decisions “to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize and support lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships” and to allow persons in these relationships to serve as rostered leaders (including pastors) of those congregations. I also wish to address the possible impact of this decision here at FEELC since our church council has initiated discussions on this issue. As a congregation we did file a statement with the Southwestern Texas Synod office on November 19, 2010 that stated we would not call a pastor in a lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship.

I desire to be the pastor and leader of this congregation to all people who are here, be those members or non-members. We are called to spread the love of God and to share his mercy with all the world. I want to be here to lead this gathering of God’s flock through the decisions ahead and to do ministry in, with, and through all of you. I reflect on conversations I had with the Call Committee about the churchwide decision that was coming and how that could play out in this place. I said then, and I say now, I will lead this congregation through whatever comes our way to what is best for this gathering of the body of Christ, and I will have to decide what my family and I will do.

This is a very heated issue with people very passionate on all sides. I agree with the Human Sexuality statement that “we do not have agreement,” and the decision of the churchwide assembly to hold up bound conscience, which Martin Luther used in his defense at the Diet of Worms. We are united in the Cross of Christ; we do not have to agree on everything. In this statement I am stating my opinion and position on this issue, and some will agree and some will disagree. I strive through all of this to be the leader God has called me to be in this place, at this time.

As I told the Call Committee, had I been at churchwide assembly of 2009, I would have voted “no” on the issue of allowing homosexual people in lifelong, monogamous relationships to be leaders of the church. This is not for reasons of Biblical witness or that those who are in these relationships are committing sin. If it is about sin, then we need to heed the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:31-32 about divorce and remarriage, that anyone who is divorced and remarried commits adultery. So all members of the roster who are divorced and remarried must be removed from being pastors if we are not allowing homosexual people to be pastors because it is a sin. And in that vein, we all must be removed from the roster, because none of us are without sin. All of us have fallen short, and it is only by the grace of God that we are in a relationship with him.

Martin Luther stood on what he believed the Bible told him, and said at the Diet of Worms, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither sane nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me, Amen.”

I also cannot do otherwise. I do not see this issue as a reason to leave any church, which is not what Luther would have done. I am and will continue to be a pastor in the ELCA, a denomination that has faithfully upheld the scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.

Please know that I have been and will continue to be the pastor for all who come through these doors and will strive to help them all draw closer to God and the love he gives us, which is the central message of the Bible. Jesus said several times that the Law and the Prophets (which to Jesus meant the whole of the Hebrew Scriptures, or the Old Testament) hang upon the commandments, “Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor as yourself.” If we can only but love the other, God will take care of the rest.

Let us strive to show forth the mercy of God, knowing that is not of our works, but it is by grace through faith that we have been saved. God saved you to show forth his love. Let us build and nurture relationships in God’s church so that all can use the gifts they have been given for the glory of God.

I pray for this congregation and each of you daily and hope that we always strive to follow the path He has set before us.