If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
The readings for Sunday, the Third Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
It's Assembly week! This coming Friday and Saturday, the voting members of our congregations will gather along with our rostered leaders and other guests to worship, fellowship, deliberate and discern the matters of the church.
As one might imagine, the anxiety level at the Lutheran Center is higher than at any other time of the year. We want to make sure that the assembly experience goes smoothly for everyone who takes part, and that we as a staff and presenters are prepared for any contingency that may (will) take place.
Experience is the best teacher, and we learn with each year, thanks to the valuable input we receive from your evaluations. Several years ago, one of our synod council members said our goal should be to make the synod assembly "an event." That is, more than a business session, it should be a gathering that those who attend look forward to every year. I look to make each assembly the best ever and I rely on your constructive criticism to improve our time together.
I ask your prayers that it may be so this week.
Our Gospel reading for this Third Sunday after Pentecost contains familiar words that, for some, have become more associated with Abraham Lincoln than with Jesus: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
Our American society is utterly separated by partisan politics, by contentious rhetoric, and by our elected leaders' stubborn refusal to even hear the other side and to try and work together for a common good.
In many ways, it was no different in Jesus' time. The Gospel reading last week narrated two of the many conflicts that Jesus debated with the Pharisees. This coming Sunday, the arguments seem to escalate to the point that the scribes accuse Jesus of being possessed by demons. That claim prompts Jesus to utter the well-known response about a house divided.
We read these accounts of the disputes between Jesus and the authorities and wonder why anyone would oppose people being healed or restored to wholeness. Yet here we are, 2000 years later, and the challenges faced by the people then are no less acute: the poor are still poor, the hungry are still hungry, health care is still beyond the reach of many, and the love of God is still ridiculed and rejected in increasing numbers. Nevertheless, God continues to work in the world.
As Jesus did not discard anyone, but rather responded in compassion to those in need, our challenge as Christians and as the Church is to demonstrate to the world that God is active in our world and we are those through whom God shows care for the vulnerable of our society. The vulnerable are not likely to believe what we say about the love of God if we don't care enough to help them in their need.
The church, as the body of Christ, is called to step in and offer hope to our present world, and to a certain extent, offer a model of compassion to those who shape public policy.
Our task as Jesus' followers is to make the Lord's rescuing and sustaining actions available to all people. The person in need is our neighbor, to whom Jesus Christ sends us in response to his love, without regard to any division or wall of separation.
As already mentioned, this weekend will have the entire office team at the synod assembly.
Monday Musings will publish on Tuesday as our office will be closed on Monday in order to give our people a breather.
Next week, I plan to take a few days away and will return to the office on June 18.
During my time away, I will take one day, Wednesday, June 13, to attend the East Ohio Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church at Lakeside, Ohio. I have been invited to be a part of their ordination service that day. I look forward to a blessed time in the company of our United Methodist sisters and brothers.
This week and always, may the God of peace
make you complete in everything good so that you may do God's will, working among us that which is pleasing in God's sight,
+Bishop Abraham Allende