Sermon Summary for Sunday, September 10th, 2017 | Respectfully Submitted by Brenda Worley

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
— Matthew 18:20

What a blessed Sunday!  God was truly among us.  We welcomed Mother Mary home with wonderful services followed by decadent brunches.  The Canterbury Choir returned from their summer break to assist in leading our worship at the 11:00 service.  Mother Mary was presented with a beautiful fountain containing all the stones representing our prayers for her during her sabbatical.  All and all, a very good day!

The Gospel reading was from Matthew and gave instructions as to how we are to lovingly confront each other during times of stress and conflict.  These verses are not to affirm the power and authority of the Church, though for many churches they are used in that way.  The verses are more profound and love-filled than that.  They are preceded by the parable of the lost sheep and followed by the lesson on how many times we are to forgive.  These verses are to build up the community and help us to grow in love for one another.  We are asked to speak openly, directly, and authentically to our neighbors and that can be a scary thing in our strife ridden world.

At this point, Mother Mary shared two classic stories of how indirect communication hurts and divides us.  The first was of a young family who left the church because the behavior of their children was criticized to the priest and not directly to them.  They were embarrassed and hurt.  The second story involved anonymous communications to the priest about the immoral behavior of another parishioner.  When the priest asked the complainant to talk directly to the offender, many reasons were given to avoid the intervention.  The priest responded by quoting this Gospel reading and reminded them about the importance of staying in community.

Social media has not helped foster this type of communication at all.  We are allowed to speak without listening to others. It takes courage and commitment to be as open and direct as we are called to be in these verses.  Jesus’ words about dying to ourselves are drowned out by our loud egos.  Though we are “consecrated” at the time of our baptisms, we often forget how precious we are to him and how we must work diligently to build an authentic community.  We are not alone in our efforts because Jesus promises to “show up” as we struggle to love one another. 

The world is in such need of loving kindness and understanding.  On this special Sunday, we were sent out with the challenge to intentionally look around and work toward being a Godly presence in our community.  How can you help?