There is much that divides us in the US today. For example, our Congress struggles to work in any style resembling bi-partisan cooperation. This is understandable, given that their constituents (us) seem less and less willing to consider or tolerate other points of view than our own. Even in our beloved denomination, we face serious doubts about whether we can stay together for the long haul as we debate the roles of scripture, church authority, and sexuality.
The early Church was no stranger to divisions. The first Christians joined the movement rapidly, converted by the Holy Spirit and by the stories they had heard of Jesus Christ. When the dust settled after the astounding period of growth at Pentecost, those same new Christians looked around and saw that they had almost nothing in common with many of their new-found “brothers and sisters in Christ.” Unlike many religions of the ancient world, the early Church was made up of people from every class, status, race, and even religious background. And they faced enormous pressure from their families, communities, and government. With so little in common, and such forces working against them, how did the early Church stay together?
That will be our subject for discussion this Sunday in The Bridge, as we read from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, 2:1-13. Paul has advice and a prayer for those of us– then and now– who are seeking to stay together even while we are aware of painful divisions and the pressure to part ways. At the same time that we explore Paul’s advice, we will also celebrate World Communion Sunday and how much we share with our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. We’ll learn some ways to pray for them, and take Holy Communion together not only as our regular practice but also as a bold statement about our commitment to staying “in communion” no matter what we do or do not have in common with our fellow Christians.
Join us this Sunday in The Bridge for Holy Communion, a World Communion Sunday celebration, and discussion of how and why we must stay together, especially when it is most difficult to do so.
PS: Next week I will be away from the office, so you will not receive an e-Letter from me. Pastor Greg will be preaching in The Bridge on Sunday, October 8, and he will continue our study of Philippians with chapter 3, verses 4-14.