My little family just ended a week together, complete with air travel, lines at local attractions, and hotel room stays. Everything went perfectly – I wouldn’t change a thing! But when you spend this much time with your kids, bickering is inevitable! They had silly arguments about who gets to hold the suitcase, who gets to push the elevator button, who gets the window seat on the plane. I watch this with frustration – I’m sure all parents can relate! But I also watch these petty interactions with confusion. Why argue about such ridiculous little things with this person who loves you, who has your back, who is a core part of your closest community? Is it SO important to push an elevator button that you must sacrifice a peaceful family relationship! Why make it so difficult?!
The first half of our week was vacation – fun and very relaxing. The second half of our week was a state-wide assembly for our church – the Nebraska Synod of the ELCA – at a convention center in the middle of Nebraska. There were parts that our kids, age 9 and 6, really did not enjoy. (Think long car rides, waiting “patiently” while mom and dad talk to boring adults, and being told a million times to be quiet and stop running through the conference room…) But we dragged them along because (a) hotel swimming pool and (b) what else are we going to do with them??
Seriously – as our kids gets older, we want them to see and hear about the ministry of our church. We want them to hear the leaders in our church proclaim our faith. We want them to see that people with differing opinions about how God calls us forward are able to worship together. We want them to see how our little church in Nebraska is part of a bigger community, with ministries we can support and join to serve diverse people from around the world.
The ELCA has this theme… “God’s Work, Our Hands.” One of our leaders spoke about how important the “Our” is. I know it is God at work, and I understand I will need to use my hands. But for some reason we have made it really difficult to be “OUR” in today’s world. He reminded us that we are most impactful when it is OUR hands – individual members together as one body – to do God’s work!
My kids fight over who gets to push the elevator button. Ultimately, we will get on the elevator, go up or down, and end at our destination. How my kids decide to behave with each other will determine if that ride is peaceful and harmonious or filled with tension and anger.
We, too, know our ultimate destination – and as Christians get to decide how we will behave with one another. Unfortunately, we are too easily distracted by our own desires and our own ideas about how the church ought to function. We gossip, we start petty arguments about petty things. We get caught up in the “my” and forget we are called to be community, with Christ always at the center. To truly be “Our” we must trust, in God and in one another. We must focus on faith, encouragement, honesty, HOPE!
When we are OUR, we abide together in love with Christ at the center, we are free to live like Christ, child of God and servant to all!
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. Romans 15:5-6