By Eddie Grim
In the last several months we have been faced with controversies, changes and many challenges in the life of Grace Church. We didn’t ask for any of these, and few, if any of us, could have known that we would be facing them. But that is the way of life both individually and as a congregation. Life has surprises and challenges, and often we are blindsided by them.
The early church faced many of the same problems that we face today, and the Apostle Paul gave them clear directions on how to face our differences and the problems that are inherent in attempting to live our lives together. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV)
What Paul is saying is that which we share is more important than our differences. Both Jesus and Paul call upon us to put love first. We are being called upon to practice the same kind of love toward each other as God has for us. This is not about emotion alone, it is also about a conscious decision on our part to follow the way of Jesus even when it is easier not to!
The Anglican Church was born out of religious conflict and division in Europe and within the church in England, caused by the reformation and the multitude of conflicting beliefs. A conscious decision was made to find unity on that which was essential and to allow for differences in all other things. That is the tradition which we still follow. Our worship and practice is centered on these very things which Paul points to as our basis of unity.
As we the family of Grace face our controversies, changes, and challenges, I call upon you to be patient, kind, and understanding toward each other. If we truly love one another, we will listen and seek to understand, being slow to judge or condemn. We will keep our minds and our hearts centered on that which bonds us together not those things that would divide us. In the words of Paul I challenge you to “be patient with one another in love and to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”