Thursday, May 28

Listening to each other

 

Scripture Reading: Romans 12:10, Romans 14, Romans 15:1-7

 

  

Because the coronavirus situation has been evolving rapidly from the start, Grace’s Ministry Leadership Team decided early on to meet (via Zoom) much more frequently—every two weeks—in order to process new information. In our meetings we have discussed how to work at congregational care and continue providing a worship experience for the congregation every week. We talk about other church business too. But the vast majority of our time in these bi-weekly meetings has focused on one topic: developing a plan for meeting together again in person.

A few weeks ago, we asked you to share your thoughts on this subject, in the form of a congregational survey. More than 100 of you responded, and we are grateful for the time you invested in that survey. We have processed your feedback carefully and prayerfully.

MLT expects to offer you a plan to restart live worship services very soon. The process of developing this plan has been challenging, requiring weeks and weeks of discussion, as well as much thought, and prayer. But it has been a labor of love. Because we are so looking forward to seeing you all again, the plan to restart live, in-person church brings us great joy! We hope you too will experience the joy of anticipating our gathering together again.

We do need to acknowledge in advance that not everyone will agree on each point of the plan. We know from the survey results that members of Grace have views of this situation that range from one end of the spectrum to the other. Rather than focus on potential points of disagreement, however, we are drawn to Paul’s message to the Christians in Rome—a diverse group of Jews and Gentiles who also held differing views on a variety of subjects.

In Romans 12, Paul calls on this diverse group to “be devoted to one another in brotherly love,” and to “honor one another above yourselves.” Paul is calling the church to display the type of loyalty and affection that family members have for one another. This kind of love allows for weaknesses and imperfections, it communicates well, deals with problems, and affirms the other. To honor one another is to give another high value and respect. We are to honor others because they too were created in God’s image, because they are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and because they have a unique contribution to make to Christ’s church.

In the opening verse of Romans 14, Paul calls believers to acceptance “without quarreling over disputable matters.” These “disputable matters” are not essential doctrines of salvation, but are differences of opinion, matters of lifestyle, or personal preferences. Those who feel one way about these “disputable matters” should not look down on or condemn those who feel differently, because God has accepted them both.

The act of restarting in-person worship services after this long quarantine offers us a tremendous opportunity to practice the type of love and acceptance Paul is writing about to these Roman believers. We should “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19). This will require that we listen to and hear and bear with one another’s burdens and concerns, so that “with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:6)

Prayer: Lord, we are excited to come back together to worship you. Help us to do so in a spirit of deep love and affection for our brothers and sisters, in a way that honors them and glorifies you. Amen.

Pastor Marc and Pastor Jay