Lectionary Year A
September 8, 2002
(JFC) A. DESCRIPTION OF THE AUDIENCE
The pastor at the church where this sermon goes tells me the Session has
been meeting longer than the usual hour and a half because they have had to
deal with a local controversy. The Elder who habitually brings up items
related to it has recently resigned from the Session. The sermon need not
get too specific relative to this local problem. Yet, it could shed some
light on how most responsibly Jesus calls us to deal with parties in the
problem arena. The congregation is in a small town. Around a hundred
people attend worship on Sundays and they appear to be more highly educated
than the average folk. The leadership is of high caliber and they are
conscientiously sensitive practitioners. The people are accustomed to
biblically centered preaching.
(JFC) INTENDED GOALS
One hopes to encourage people to deal responsively and civilly with those who
them. The congregation's role in this system could bring a vote of
confidence in the leaders who might be inspired to set the example.
(JFC) C. ADDRESS
"If/When Someone Offends You"
Jesus knew what He was talking about. Many offended Him. He suggests a
sensible and responsible way to approach those who offend. It might work for
I. Go To Them
It's "Off of Square One" time. Sometimes we have to be the initiators of
with differences. People differ. That's God's plan. God makes and sustains
The goal we have in mind as we go = to bring peaceful, harmonious and
productive relationships their chance to flourish rather than to go into
II. If the Offender Remains Unmoved By Your Approach
Need help? Take a partner. Two heads are better than one. So are 2 hearts
and 2 wills wanting the same ends. Teamwork helps. Local press surely
mentions the value of teamwork, e.g., local high school fall sports gearing
up this time of year.
Need more help? Bring the matter to the Church Council. Their prayerful
support and awareness that we are eager to solve problems rather than to let
them fester will help. Inasmuch as Jesus intends for the community of
believers to get involved in dealing with offences and offenders, we can
expand our horizons to include local public servants and even national
III. Rely On The Witnessability of the Congregation
Quote the denomination's constitution, regarding lay and clergy responsibility in
with conflict. Jesus and the historical development of the denomination's
traditions and polity work together to bring about positive ends. They might
be "survival tactics", too.
God is always with us and available to us to answer our questions and to grant
Action for good ends with good assistance and with the church glorifies God and
uplifts people and keeps them/us on better footing with each other and with
others, as well.
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