With the impending election, our nation and community seems ever more divided. Tension is high. Fear runs deep. It’s easy to get into arguments. Which leaves me wondering, what holds us together as a church when forces around us seem to pull our convictions and loyalties in opposite directions? You may be surprised to know (or perhaps not) that the early Christian church experienced quite divisive conflict. Many of the books in the New Testament that were originally letters, were addressed to congregations arguing and fighting over ways to handle communion, speaking in tongues, whether or not circumcision was a mandatory requirement for being a Christian, allowing women to speak in church or not. From the beginning, the church had to understand what held God’s people together as a distinctive spiritual community.
At a recent PV Church Council meeting, I asked, “How we can be united without having uniformity of thought and opinion?” Some helpful affirmations were made about how we live out our faith: We listen. We value each other as children of God. We practice loving each other as neighbors. We strive to disagree without being disagreeable. We keep our attention on Christ and making disciples in ways that show the world our love for others. Our convictions are important to us all, but being God’s love in action is essential. The Apostle Paul tells the churches in Galatia, “the only thing that counts is faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). We know that God made us all different. Honoring our differences is our strength, whenever we look to Christ as the source of faith and guidance for us. As we worship this Sunday, we also remember the saints of our church who have died. We affirm, as they did, that we live by trust in God. Sunday, we honor their memory and gather as one body around the communion table to share in the inexhaustible love of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ.