Pentecost 13 Proper 17
Exodus 3:1-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28
White Board how the people of St. James’ will treat each other inside and outside the Church
As the summer comes to an end and we begin another school year and a new church program year it is good to consider how we want to be treated and how we should treat others, of what it means to be a welcoming and affirming, Christ-centered community. We can think of this as “The Golden Rule” or a covenant we make with each other of how we will behave, of how we will be.
We can begin with why do we even come to church?
We the people of St. James are a group of people who come together to worship and give thanks to God, to hear God’s word and an interpretation in a sermon, to sing praises to God, to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, for fellowship, to receive strength for God’s work in the world, to learn about our faith, …
What distracts you in worship?
I am distracted during worship when I am anxious as to whether everything is in place: have the candles been lit, is the scripture marked and the psalm printed, are the hymns displayed, is everything set and ready for Eucharist, did I forget something; when noticing who is present and who is missing, when hot or cold, when the unexpected occurs, by noises; when I worry whether my sermon will be interesting but challenging, whether my sermon illuminates God’s will or message, whether people can hear me; with worries about the well-being of my congregation, an argument or disagreement, unfinished business, fatigue, …
What makes you feel welcome at St. James?
I feel welcome at St. James’ when people say hello or Good Morning!, when people genuinely tell me they are glad to see me and give me a hug or shake my hand, when people complete the tasks they have agreed to do in a timely manner, when people include me in conversations, at coffee hour, when people actively participate and volunteer to complete tasks without prodding, when people show interest in my ideas, my family, my worries, my beliefs, when people ask for my opinion and then listen with interest without interrupting, …
When do you feel unwelcome?
I feel unwelcome when I am ignored, when no one notices my presence or my absence, when I am criticized, when I am treated like the hired help, when I am excluded or not included, when my opinion is not asked for or is criticized, when how I am dressed is commented on, when I am made to feel like an outsider, that I do not belong, that I am wasting their time, …
How do you want to be treated at Church?
I want to be treated with respect, to be included and welcomed to participate, to be spoken to, to be listened to, to have my ideas and opinions invited and listened to, to be free to be myself even if it is different from others, to be treated as a sister in Christ, to be treated as an equal, to be treated as a beloved daughter of God, to be noticed and recognized for my contributions, …
How should we treat others at Church?
We should treat members and visitors with respect, welcome them to participate and accept their right to decline, welcome them to coffee hour, greet them sincerely and warmly, include them in conversations, listen to them, share our story, listen to their story, love them as our brothers and sisters in Christ, love them as a beloved son and daughter of God, accept them as they are, …
How do we want to be treated outside the Church?
I want to be treated with respect, to be included and welcomed to participate, to be spoken to, to be listened to, to have my ideas and opinions invited and listened to, to be free to be myself even if it is different from others, to be treated as a sister in Christ, to be treated as an equal, to be treated as a beloved daughter of God, to be noticed and recognized for my contributions, not to be harassed or abused, not to be continually criticized and put down, to be constructively criticized, …
How should we treat others outside the Church?
We should treat others with respect, be honest, be sincere, welcome them to participate, greet them sincerely and warmly, include them in conversations, listen to them, share our story, listen to their story, love them as our brothers and sisters in Christ, love them as beloved sons and daughters of God, genuinely care about their well-being, feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, cloth those in need, help those in need, provide shelter to the homeless, accept help from others, …
How do we become the Church and not just another social group?
We are the Church when we recognize that we are the body of Christ, that we are the hands and feet of Christ, when we are about the work of God in our community, when we love God, love our neighbor, love ourselves and love God’s creation, when we share God’s story, when we welcome and care for the poor, the marginalized, and the other, when we share our stories and listen to the stories of others, when we baptize and welcome the other into our midst, when we pray, when we worship God, when we read scripture and discuss it with others, when we realize our values, morals and ethics are different from our cultural norms, …
How did Paul say we should be?
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
So as we begin a new year, I hope you will take some time to consider what it means to be the church in the city of Albion or Jackson, at Albion College and other places of employment and school and in our homes. Pray about how you want to be treated and how you will treat others. Pray to God for understanding of God’s will and His dream for you. Pray for the strength and courage to be the church in this city of Albion. God will hear you. God will bless you and show you the way. Amen.