Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
The heart of the gospel is relationship!
A town in Minnesota never had a name, so a town meeting was called to choose one. As names were happily proposed, the discussion turned into heated debate, and at times became quite quarrelsome. One man became so disgusted by the way things were going that he jumped up, pounded on the table with his fist, and shouted, “Let’s live in harmony!” Across the room the idea was shouted back, “Yes! Let’s have harmony!” So the town got its name, Harmony, Minnesota.
Have you ever noticed that wherever two or three are gathered, there can be conflicts? We who profess Jesus as Savior and Lord are not perfect reflections of him. We are saints and sinners, paradoxically, right and wrong with God simultaneously. It’s no wonder we have conflict in the church. But congregations cannot hope to bring peace to their neighborhoods until their members live in the peace of Christ. So Matthew gives a three-step method to the church when the hurtful, sinful behavior of one church member toward another can be dealt with: (1) The injured party initiates a face-to-face meeting to seek understanding and harmony. If that doesn’t mend the wound, (2) the injured one takes a couple members to witness and encourage honest, helpful heart-to-heart healing. If there is still no reconciliation, (3) take the issue to the entire congregation.
Relationships matter in the lives we share. We are called to live in harmony, not just in Harmony. Seeking this harmony reminds us that this Christian life is never a solo flight, never something we do alone. There are no solitary Christians, because the heart of the gospel is relationship . . . with God, through Christ, and with the people God loves.
Dean Jurgen, pastor, Lititz Moravian Church