the 14th sunday after pentecost
the PRAYER. . .
O Lord God, enliven and preserve your church with your perpetual mercy. Without your help, we mortals will fail; remove far from us everything that is harmful, and lead us toward all that gives life and salvation, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
the READING. . .
[Jesus said to the disciples:] “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone ….”
the DEVOTION. . .
As of 7:00, evening before last, I’ve been a minister – called and ordained – for thirty-seven years! All I can say is, “Uff da!” Nearly four decades of proclaiming the gospel! Two generations of baptizing and celebrating and forgiving! Life’s been good … for the most part! But in the midst of the reminiscing, I realized something … that whole time, I can’t remember anyone ever admit to sinning against another member of the church! Never hurting someone’s feelings! Never stepping on someone’s toes! Never offending; always the offended!
I guess that’s why we gravitate toward passages like this. “If another member of the church sins against you …” It’s the way church works, for us! It’s all about them! Pointing fingers! Finding fault! Laying blame! And this is practical advice on cleaning up THEIR messes!
But then, this passage isn’t about faith as I’ve come to know it. Believing – foremost and first – doesn’t begin with if-another-member-sins-against-me. It starts with when-I-sin-against-another-member … Not IF I sin, but WHEN I do …
Bob Barndt, pastor