It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Monday, August 29, 2011

When We Disagree, a Reflection on Matthew 18:15-20

Earlier in chapter 18, Jesus is talking about the joy of recovering those who stray from the flock. Now, he's talking about the difficulty of living with those who don't leave. "Here's what you can expect: some church members are going to treat you badly. Don't ignore the problem. Even if you are not at fault, you still have the responsibility to mend the relationship."

Here's the hard part. Start by going directly to the offender. Don't go around telling everybody else how much you are hurt. First, tell the one who hurt you.

Then, if that doesn't work, and only if that doesn't work, share your concerns with a couple of other church members. If that doesn't work, and only if that doesn't work, then you may tell others in the church about the problem.

If the offender won't listen to the whole church, then treat that person like a Gentile and a tax collector.

Notice the irony in this last instruction by remembering how Jesus treated Gentiles and tax collectors.

Thinking about forgiveness and the congregatingness (congregatability?) of the congregation, I read Kathleen Norris' typically wonderful poem, Mrs. Schneider in Church:

Here's the first and last stanza:

It's the willingness to sing

that surprises me:
out of tune,
we drag the organist along
and sing, knowing we can't,
and our quite ordinary voices 
carry us over.

Now we are changed, 
making a noise 
greater than ourselves,
to be worthy of the lesson:
all duly noted,
all forgiven.

(Excerpted from Cries of the Spirit, Beacon Press, ed. by Marilyn Sewell

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