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September 7

Pastor's Minute

Division – Nothing New

I’ve read many an article, blog or opinion column that has bemoaned that the church, like much of our American society, has never been more divided than it is today. And it’s hard to see how that cannot be a big factor in the drawing-down of numbers of Christians worshipping on Sundays.

Many who were regular “churchgoers” have drifted away or come only when they have no other plans for that Sunday. Others have just stayed away to avoid any uncomfortable conflict or tension. Some say they are the smart ones!

But the church has, over the centuries, been striven over issues of politics, socioeconomics, theology and leadership styles. Not to mention “worship wars” over liturgy, language, and music.

In Chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel, we hear Jesus giving his disciples (and the future

congregations to which Matthew is writing) clear instructions on how to handle dissention and division in the church. While the mechanism in this week’s text (18:15-20) is regarding how to deal with a fellow member who sins (“against you” is likely a later addition to this verse). It is also part of our congregation’s constitutional process for discipline and adjudication of member (C15.01). The process is well-known but often not followed.

“If another member of the church sins (against you), go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.

But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you,

so that every world may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to

listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

(Matthew 18:15-17)

Even way back then, there were disputes within the early church. Which might be expected, as the average size of a Christian church in Matthew’s day (around 70 AD) might be 20-50 people all in the same village or neighborhood. They already knew each other – they were related or were already friends. They were also under great pressure from fellow Jews who thought they were lost or blasphemous, from local authorities who were seeking to keep the peace among their own and with the Roman overlords, and the Roman occupiers as well who saw this fledgling faith as a threat to their imposed “peace.”

Since they lived in such close daily circumstances, it’s easy to see how the regular irritations of living/working/playing together would dredge up all sorts of irritations and reactions, not always well-thought out. These tensions and disagreements, along with the almost inevitable offensive behavior, would cause some to take umbrage and demand that the other owed them an apology.

Therefore, a process for correction and reconciliation was essential to the community’s peace and cohesion. I don’t think that it was a matter of them all being in agreement in all things, but rather a way to restore their relationships while continuing to grow into their faith and expand the vision for sharing their good news with others.

I wonder what it would be like to engage in such a process? I can’t imagine how that might come about – can you?


Pr. Mark


Fellowship Hall

Ceiling Repairs

Following our “raccoon problem” this summer, repairs of the ceiling in the Fellowship Hall will begin

next week. As part of this work, we will make improvements in the lighting system with more efficient

and brighter lighting.

Good Shepherd Playschool Year Begins

The Playschool year begins tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 8th).

Each day, our building will be filled with the joy and noise of about thirty children (three to five years old) learning about the world, themselves, and how to get along with others. The school day is from 9:30 AM until 12:30 PM, Monday through Friday. During this time, the exterior doors will be locked for security purposes. If you need to gain access, please use the doorbell at the office entrance to be let in. If you have a key, please let the PS Director (Kim Hughes) know that you are in the building. Parking spaces near the office entrance are for PS drop off and pickup only during those hours.

Interested in a Book Club?

Reading a book on our own and gathering in a relaxed setting once every couple of weeks for

discussion? If that is something you’d be interested in, please contact Pastor Mark.

Congregational Survey

of Time, Talent, and your thoughts!

Good Shepherd Family,

WE NEED YOU! Can you please take 10 minutes to complete the short survey so that we can plan for the coming year? The Congregational Council is collecting your thoughts, time, and talent data to be more inclusive of all members and to connect us more to the needs of our congregation and to each other. We look forward to hearing your ideas!

The survey will be open from August 16 - September 20th. Once analyzed, Council will report out the results in an upcoming Congregational fall Meeting.

Please see the survey link here


Pre School

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Contact Deidre Howard to share your ministry event or special activity in our weekly updates. All inputs due by NOON on Wednesday.

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