Dear Members and Friends,
Greetings in the name of the One into whose community we were created, by whose Son we are redeemed and forgiven for our sins, and by whose Holy Spirit we are sustained!
In our worship times together in September, October, and November, we are looking at the contemporary messages found in our much-loved hymns and praise songs. The best of them contain words of wisdom, guidance, and comfort for such a time as this in our church, our nation, and our world. They point us to timeless messages found in Holy Scripture, and they sustain us in the midst of difficult times.
Some of our favorite hymns and praise songs speak personally to us of a loving and intimate relationship with God and/or Jesus, while others speak to us of a desired future state for our collective lives in Christ’s church. Some of them speak of Christian unity. Unity seems to be in short supply these days in our nation, in our world, and even in our United Methodist Church. The truth of human nature is that unity is fragile. Our human differences make unity a challenge to maintain. Some of the difficulties creating and maintaining unity in our current time can be attributed to a tendency to too eagerly judge others rather than attempting to listen and understand behavior and viewpoints. There is a tendency to objectify those who are different from us, too easily dismissing them or even making them into the enemy. Harsh words spoken in the heat of anger too easily wound and estrange individuals from one another.
And yet, we read many times in Scripture of God’s desire for unity for the whole human family, Christ’s teachings on unity, and the apostle Paul’s efforts to build unity and then preserve it in emerging communities of Christ-followers. But merely desiring unity is not enough. Those who work toward unity must learn how to listen for understanding, speak the truth in love, use their imaginations to picture a better way forward, and be forgiving. An automatic response to a lack of unity, and conflict, even, is avoidance. But Jesus calls us to be peacemakers. We do not gain peace and unity by avoiding conflict; rather, we move toward conflict in order to create peace, even if that conflict is within the family of God. Reconciliation and unity are part of the mission of the Church to the world around it, and so we must embrace our mission, trusting that wherever we go, God goes with us.
May God continue to bless this faith community as together we strive to live truly in and as God’s community and as Christ’s Church!
Together in Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Eleanor Collinsworth