Worship September 6, 2020
I welcome you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
From the comfort of our homes we gather to worship. Whether through printed word, or through the gift of technology we are a community. Here we seek connection to the Divine. Come, let us worship God, shown to us through the risen Christ.
~ submitted by Ann Harbridge, DLM, Minister at Trinity Centennial United Church in Rosemont, Ontario.
Almighty and ever-living God, Your Spirit made us Your children, confident to call You Father. Increase Your Spirit within us
and bring us to our promised inheritance. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Join in singing This Is the Day – we will sing this as a round with Janell leading and you joining Rod in the echo.
Hymn UMH # 657 This Is the Day (sung as a round)
Scripture Matthew 18: 15-20 (NRSV)
God, source of all light, by your Word you give light to the soul. Pour out on us the spirit of wisdom and understanding that our hearts and minds may be opened. Amen
15 “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
18 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
Hear what the Spirit is saying. Amen
This Gospel message today is a tough one.
Yeah! Can you imagine doing exactly what it says! I don’t think so.
I know it’s talking about forgiveness and redemption, but I don’t like the idea of confrontation and witnesses and all that stuff.
I can’t imagine what that would be like. You know, so many times people get their feelings hurt and think that everyone is against them. I know that I’ve said some things that have probably hurt someone’s feelings, even if I didn’t mean to do it. I think we all do that.
Well, the Gospel lesson says you should to go the person and point out the fault. I guess that means that the one who is hurt should speak up and try to resolve the matter.
It’s not as easy as that! Jesus wants us to live in compassionate, loving relationships with others, and that means admitting when we are wrong and facing the ones whom we have wronged. That’s tough stuff.
Jesus never made it easy for anyone. He expected us to learn about tough love, the kind that is willing to be forgiving and recognizes hurts and wounds.
What it boils down to is, think before you speak. How would you like to be treated. Respond instead of react. Wow, we have lots to learn, don’t we!
Do any thoughts come to mind after hearing today’s scripture?
Maybe thoughts like “no-way am I going to go directly to someone or maybe you see this as justification to let someone really have it.
Well neither of these ideas are what this scripture is about.
I follow the three – year lectionary rotation of scripture. Many churches follow the Lectionary so you might find your friends and family from other churches having also heard this scripture today.
The New Testament is filled with many ideas for living. Jesus, when teaching his disciples and the crowds that gathered around him used common thoughts and ideas to address the challenges humans face.
In Bible times like now Christians will disagree with each other.
Sometimes we quarrel, sometimes we hold grudges, sometimes we pout, sometimes we share with everyone but the one we have the problem with.
Matthew 18 addresses how to handle disagreements.
The Scripture for today says that we must never allow disagreements to separate us from another member of the Christian community.
This doesn’t mean physically separated, it means the disagreements that damage relationships.
In Matthew 18 Jesus acknowledges that the disciples are going to experience conflicts in the forming and growing of the Christian church; but he doesn’t leave it at that. Jesus gives specific direction for how to deal with conflict.
I am not sure us Midwesterners, or for that matter, us with Scandinavian blood running through our veins, are known for our timely or direct conflict management. In fact I think just the opposite is true.
We are known for our dislike of conflict. But since conflict is sometimes unavoidable our aim should be to resolve it in an effective manner.
When conflict goes unresolved it usually evolves into emotions of hurt, anger, grief, loss, frustration, and even hate.
These emotions then spill over into our friends, families, and our churches.
The scripture read earlier is not meant for those times that everyone gets alone. .
In Matthew 18 Jesus is telling us how handle the times we find ourselves in conflict with someone.
Bishop Sally Dick, former Bishop of the MN UMC Annual Conference says “Jesus calls us to the discipleship of peacemaking. It’s not “nice-making,” but staying in healthy relationships with each other”.
Early in my life I was rather opposed to “processes’. You know those rules that when followed assured that things are done the same way every time. I kind of liked to fly by the seat of my pants.
It did not take too long working in a technical company that I learned the value of a process. Processes exist so what you are doing is done correctly.
Many United Methodist Churches have designed a process that aligns with our scripture reading.
The process called “The Rule of Christ” is based on Matthew 18:8-20
“Rule of Christ was designed by the late Rev. Terry Gladstone, a United Methodist Deacon in the Michigan Area, as a way of applying Jesus’ teachings from Matthew 18 to the life and relationships in the local church”.
The Rule of Christ is a process that helps us to live as Jesus Christ taught, especially when we’re angry with someone.
This process is designed for use within churches but much of it is equally appropriate for any relationship that is impacted by conflict.
This process is not complicated but for those of us that are accustomed to conflict avoidance, well it can be tough.
Using the Rule of Christ helps all of us communicate better by using this six step Biblical process.
Step One: Look at Yourself, Jesus tells us to take time to examine our role in the conflict.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Can I let it go? This might be the toughest question. It is hard, really hard, to let some stuff go.
Some of us hold on to stuff for years, even to the end of our lives.
Remember the stories about the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s? According to the Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica these two American Appalachian mountaineer families who, with their kinfolk and neighbors, engaged in a feud that attracted nationwide attention in the 1880s and 1890s.
These two families lived on opposite sides of a stream.
Had the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s followed Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 18 relationships may have been restored and lives might have been saved.
The origins of the feud are unclear, but many lives were lost over several years.
So back to The Rule of Christ …
If the answer is yes, I can let it go, there is no need to confront the other person.
If not as yourself…
- How does the other person see the situation?
- How have I contributed to this problem?
- What does God see?
Asking yourself these questions you might be surprised to see things in your own behavior that needs changing.
If you do, resolve to make the necessary changes.
Think through what it is you hope to communicate with the person with whom you are in conflict, and what you would like to see as an outcome.
Step Two: Keep this as a One on One situation “If another (scripture says) member of the church (but I am going to say person) sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the other listens to you, you can resolve the conflict.
The purpose of the second step is to resolve the conflict….not to get mad or to get even.
- Seek to resolve the conflict without involving others. Go directly to the individual you are having the conflict
- Speak for yourself by starting your sentences with “I”
- Work hard to understand the other person’s point of view
- Work together to create solutions
- If not resolved by a one-on-one conversation….
Step Three: Get Some Objective Help (Matthew 18:16) 6But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
Others can help the two parties see possibilities. You can invite someone to come with you as you meet with the other person to help mediate or facilitate the process. In the church you can involve the Staff Parish Relations Committee to assist in you resolving this concern. To do that:
- Make sure you have done steps 1 and 2 first. (examine yourself to see if you can let go and then speak directly to the other person)
- Write a one-page summary of your concern and give it to the Staff Parish Relations Committee.
- The Staff Parish Relations Committee upon reviewing the concern will work with you in resolving the issue. If not resolved by involving the SPRC…
Step Four: Take It to the Church. Use the resources of the Church. The church Conference has resources available to work through conflict
If not resolved by outside help from the wider church…
Step Five: Shake the Dust (Matthew18: 17b) There are some issues that cannot be resolved.
The church should remember its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Let go of the anger and disappointment at the unresolved issues and move on with your ministry focusing on the mission of the church.
Step Six: God is There (Matthew 18:20) “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them”.
Remember God’s powerful promise to be with us in the midst of our problems
So here we have it in a six-step process
- Step 1 – Look at Yourself (Matthew 18:8-9)
Jesus tells us to take time to examine our role in a conflict.
- Step 2 – One-on-One (Matthew 18:15)
Resolve the conflict.
- Step 3 – Get Some Objective Help (Matthew 18:16)
Others can help the parties see possibilities.
- Step 4 – Take it to the Church (Matthew 18:17a)
Use the resources of the church.
- Step 5 – Shake the Dust (Matthew 18:17b)
Some issues cannot be resolved.
- Step 6 – God is There (Matthew 18:20)
God has promised to be with us in the midst of our problems.
Ronald Reagan said “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means”.
It isn’t a matter that Christians are perfect and will not have conflicts.
There will always be quarrels, differences of opinion, disappointments with others, hurt feelings, bent pride, embarrassment, and lots of mistakes.
Conflict is best handled when individuals prayerfully and humbly focus on loving others, with the intent of restoring relationships.
Most conflict should be manageable if the Rule of Christ is followed.
Jesus said offenses will happen–even in church.
But Jesus asks us to have a little faith in the power of forgiveness to bring healing and reconciliation to our lives, our relationships, and our churches.
Jesus believes in us; he believes that we can do this. That is why he said that it takes the faith of a tiny little mustard seed.
Let’s apply a little faith this week and in the weeks to come and let us practice the Rule of Christ in our relationships, in our church, and in our community.
And as we do, we will experience the power of God in our midst–the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. Amen.
Prayer: Dear God, you know how difficult and damaging conflict and sin can be.
No matter how difficult the circumstances, help us to treat each other as persons deserving of respect and do all that we can to restore and repair broken relationships. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer
When we hold out our hands to be cuffed by loneliness, you clasp our wrists to pull us into your heart.
When our lives are shattered by the injustices done to those passed over by the world, your love puts us back together, so we can serve them with your hope.
Emancipating God, we praise you!
When we would build walls between us and our neighbors, you come to be the welcoming gate.
When we would curse someone who has hurt us in our souls, you sing us songs of blessing.
When we would focus only on our needs and our desires, you hand us the dinnerware and ask us to set the Table.
Ever-near Salvation, we would follow you!
When we would feed on our bitter brokenness, you would offer us the Bread of reconciliation.
When we would grasp the Cup of peace, and drink it to the last drop, you whisper, ‘offer some
to those you don’t like.’
Liberating Spirit, we would be filled with you!
God in Community, Holy in One, free us of all fears and doubts,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us,
Our Father . . .
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
We are singing Let us Break Bread Together as we prepare for communion. Preparing for communion means gathering your juice and bread and preparing your heart.
Hymn UMH # 618 Let us Break Bread Together
Communion and Prayer of Thanksgiving
On the night in which he gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: “Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.” When the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said: “Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.
By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet.
Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father,
now and forever. Amen.
The body of Christ, given for you. Amen.
The blood of Christ, given for you. Amen.
Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us.
Grant that we may go into the world in the strength of your Spirit, to give ourselves for others, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our generous God, through his Son, Jesus Christ, has shown us what it means to love.
And He call us to follow His example — to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Prayer of Dedication
O God, Jesus taught that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also.
In this hour, we come bringing our treasures— all that we have and all that we are.
We come seeking your treasure—treasure that does not fade, decay, or disappoint.
Share with us the treasure of heaven, that we may boldly share it with others. Amen.
Join as one in singing Help Us Accept Each Other
HYMN UMH # 560 Help Us Accept Each Other (verses 1,3,4)
The peace of Jesus Christ has been poured out to you. Now go into the world bringing hope, forgiveness, and peace to others. God’s peace is with you always. AMEN.
- Thank you to Janell, Rod and Jackie for sharing your gift of reading music with us.
- Lawn Chair Worship continues through mid-September (weather permitting) at 10:30 Sunday morning in Mora. Church leaders meet again August to determine the plan going forward. Ogilvie continues at 9am each week.
- Online worship and mailings also continue so please if you have health conditions that put you at a higher risk for contracting the COVID virus, please allow yourself the privilege of staying home.
- If you want an Upper Room daily Meditation publication, please let the church office know and we will make sure you get one.