Love When There is Conflict
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
“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.
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
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!