Love When There is Conflict
September 7, 2014

Love When There is Conflict

Preacher:
Passage: Matthew 18:15-20
Service Type:

SERMON:

Matthew 18:15-20 – Rev. Deacon Tanis Kolisnyk Sept 7 2014
18:15 "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.

18:16 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.

18:17 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.

18:18 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.

18:19 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.

18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."

 

May the words of my mouth and meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy

sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.  AMEN

First of all, may I begin by saying “IT IS SO GOOD TO BE BACK WITH MY

CHURCH FAMILY”  I had to leave you suddenly just before the long weekend in

May due to health reasons.  It was a scary time – I must say, but I made it through

with a great deal of love, caring and medical help. Thank you for remembering

me in your prayers…… God was with me….. and kind visits by Rev. Donald,

Andy, Deacons, Priests and our Bishop Donald surrounded me in hope and

love - phone calls, beautiful cards and words of encouragement were acts of love

and support. These actions helped me greatly….. So Thank you.

It was also great source of comfort knowing that Nathan was ready to take on the

music responsibilities and folks like Andy and Michael and Nick were able to still

contribute their musical gifts to support the healing service in June. – I could rest,

assured, all was well here... so God Bless You.

Rev. Donald asked me to preach today….. my first Sunday back…… and I am

glad to contribute in this way this morning. The truths found in the gospel today

teaches us about being in relationship with each other and the power of Christian

community – a message of love and empowerment because we are not left alone.

Jesus in his gospel message today clearly has the correct assumption that conflict

in Christian community is normal and natural, and conflict should be dealt with

honestly and with compassion. Jesus knows that we are humans who can

be easily angered, get hurt feelings or maybe we are avoiders and prefer to not deal

with “stuff” so we can keep the peace.

In a family, whether that is our own nuclear family or our church family, we know

that if we let things fester, eventually something explodes……. Not good…..

There must be another way.

Jesus provides us another way in our gospel lesson today.

  • First, he asks us to use direct and respectful communication.

  • For instance, if we are struggling with something a church member has said or done, we are not to talk behind his or her back. We are to take time aside, after the initial rush of emotion has subsided, and engage in dialogue with that person one-on-one.

It is about bearing one another’s burdens and seeking reconciliation.

This is a sign of a healthy community. Jesus concludes his instructions by

teaching:

“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.”

How we choose to treat one another when the going gets rough has consequences.

  • We have the power to bind and to loose each other from our pride and ever-present need to be right.

  • We have the power to loosen one another from assumptions and stereotypes.

  • We can bind ourselves together with the unbreakable love of Christ.

We know that God has not called us to be in community without being connected

to each other……..we need each other. Our Lord calls us to watch out for one

another. Just previous to this text, Jesus told the story of the Shepherd who left 99

sheep to find one lost sheep.  Jesus said,

“If a man owns a 100 sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the 99 on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did not wander off.  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any should be lost.” (Matt. 18:11-14)

  •  Your Father in heaven is not willing that any should be lost.

  • God has but one will: to save people, including you and me!

  • The Good Shepherd gave his life for us.

God’s ongoing love … is what we experience daily.

God’s ongoing love is what compels us to keep seeking and to keep working

together being God’s hands and feet here on Earth.

I have heard stories over the summer of many of your life’s journey. There has

been wonderful joyful moments; there has been moments of struggle and

difficulties that calls us as support each other on an ongoing basis.

  • When we as a congregation come together in pain: GOD is with us.

  • When we come together to pray. GOD is with us.

  • When we come together in compassion to help members in our community or make an effort to connect with people outside our walls – for instance BBQ to enjoy the food and company…………………GOD is with us.

In Matthew's Gospel Jesus makes a wonderful promise:

"Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Think about that.  God the Almighty is with us.

Examples:

  • When a married couple prays together …………….. Creator God is there.

  • When a family bows their heads to give thanks at the dinner table,… GOD is there.

  • When a priest or deacon offers a prayer beside a bed in a hospital with someone who is suffering, or someone who is incarcerated… GOD is there.

  • When frozen pipes impact communities and as Christians we bind together, ……GOD is there.

  • When we celebrate 100th Anniversaries like St. Marks’s did last year…… GOD is there.

In good times and difficult times We Are Not Alone….. no matter what the

circumstances.

I know this to be true. This summer while I was in the hospital, I was on a lot of

pain medication. Truthfully –there were days I could not offer a prayer because my

mind was not clear…. That is when I knew the prayers of the good people of St.

Philip’s, fellow clergy in the diocese, friends and family carried me.

  • Being supported by a body of faithful Christian people is so powerful. We can find God in the fellowship of other believers…. There is strength in this – unexplainable strength.

  • I thank God for the blessing of power prayers and Christian love.

We are part of a people of God who are not perfect, but together we do the best

that we can. I found a small poem on the internet that captures what I am trying to

say – not signed by anyone.

I think that I shall never see

A church that’s all it ought to be;

A church whose members never stray

Beyond the straight and narrow way! ……

But still we’ll work and pray and plan

To make our own the best we can.

The best little church we can be…….. it sounds so simple and really we need not

make it overly complicated.

One thing I love about the Anglican Church…… it has a set pattern of

worship that guides our way to enter into God’s presence…. If we enter into an

Anglican Church anywhere in Canada, we will feel a sense of being home. Yes,

there may be different ways of doing things within the Liturgical guidelines, but

we will be at home….. GOD is waiting for us right here – within the Anglican

church - every Sunday, and every weekday.

The Anglican governance structure is there to help us, to guide us and can

change with time  - it is not rigid but can be molded with care to meet the needs of

Anglican people ….. and if we get stuck we have our Bishop to turn to for

discernment and wisdom.

We are part of a larger Anglican family:

….. a loving family in our Diocese

… a caring family here in St. Philip’s.

Thanks be to GOD!