May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
In his book, Let Go and Let God, John E. Keller shares the story of a pastor and that pastor’s ministry.
The pastor reflects on his ministry. He divides his ministry into three stages.
In the first stage, the pastor pictures himself on the bank of a river. In the river, people are drowning. In this stage of his ministry, the pastor tells people to come onto the bank and be like him.
In the second stage, the pastor again pictures himself on the bank of a river. Again, people in the river are drowning. In this stage of his ministry, the pastor is helping the people onto the bank to be like him.
In the third stage, the pastor again pictures himself on the bank of the river. Again, people are in the river drowning. This time the pastor falls into the river with the drowning people. Here he discovers something. The people are not drowning. They are holding each other up. In addition, below all the people, is the hand of God holding all of them up.
Recently I attended my daughter’s wedding in North Carolina. I was asked to read the scripture. I do not officiate my daughters’ weddings as I would rather be the father on that day. When I stood up to read I thanked all the people for their help and support for my daughter.
This was my daughter’s second wedding. She had gone through a contentious divorce. It was a very dark time in her life. Yet, the people in the community, in her church and in her new husband’s family welcomed her. They supported her as she got back on her feet. This is a great example of the Christian community.
In these days, we see so much division. Yet, God calls us not necessarily to agree with each other but to bear up with one another, love one another and to encourage one another.
May God enable us to that lifestyle today.
Peace Lutheran Church
Mill Valley, California