Originally posted Jan. 18, 2012, at Halstad Parish. Republished with permission of the author.
We’ve had a long break from hard winter this year. It has been fairly mild and lots of records have been set for record highs. But it is January and this is northwestern Minnesota and winter is here.
Yesterday morning it was below zero and windy. I knew without a thermometer that I was going to need to dress really warm.
First of all, when I came into the living room, the two oldest (and biggest) cats were curled up together in my husband’s chair on top of the fleece throw.
Then when my husband left to go to work, he came back into the house. When I asked what he’d forgotten, he answered, “No, I need my real winter jacket today.” He hadn’t even gotten it out of the closet yet this year.
He doesn’t get cold often. When he puts on extra winter layers, the weather service is probably putting out advisories about the cold.
When I get cold in the car, he could well be driving in his (short) shirtsleeves!
Needless to say, one of the areas we have had to learn to compromise and work with each other is in regulating the thermostat in the car and at home. I wear more layers and keep a blanket handy and he wears short sleeves often even in the winter. He puts up with my cold feet at night and I enjoy coming to bed and getting my feet warm.
There is a lesson in this for how we get along together in Christian community.
We all have different set points when things become uncomfortable. Sometimes it is change itself that makes us uncomfortable. Like my husband and I in the car, it is often when we are sitting together in worship that we find ourselves in disagreement.
Where some people find comfort in familiar words and patterns, other people find boredom and wonder if those same words and patterns have anything to do with what is going on in their world today.
It is human nature I think to see such preferences as disagreements that put people on one “side” or another.
Our language becomes divisive: for or against, one or the other, yes or no.
We can become so side-tracked by this that we cannot see the value and treasures in variety or the wider welcome it gives to more people. Culture has made compromise into a negative value, equating it with failure and equating moderation with being mediocre.
Living in harmony
Faith calls us to live in harmony with one another. The mark of our faith is not in being right but in looking out for the faith of others and in welcoming those who are new to the gospel.
Paul writes in Romans; “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:19). Our focus is not to be on ourselves but on others, and we are to act not out of judgment but out of love.
The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and the book of Acts give a wonderful picture of Jesus’ disciples and the early church full of flaws, chaos, differences and the power of Jesus’ love and grace.
Jesus collects a group of people from all corners of his world, people who wouldn’t have found themselves together by their own choosing and from them begins this thing called the church, the body of Christ, this community.
You and I have also been called into this community, to put ourselves aside and to love and serve others; in this God is glorified. Read Romans 15:1-7.
Find a link to Christine Iverson’s entry on the blog Halstad Parish at Lutheran Blogs.