the one about Jesus being there...
September 11, 2017, 8:54 AM

Sermon from September 10, 2017

Text: Matthew 18: 15-20

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and savior Jesus who is the Christ! Will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, growing up there was a TV show that I enjoyed from time to time. It was a show that didn’t really make a whole lot of sense. It was a show that was advertised as being about nothing in particular. Just a group of friends who were normal and yet still, very different from others. This show of course is Seinfeld.

There is one part from that show that I continually laugh about and look back on – George Costanza’s dad’s ‘invented holiday’ of Festivus. Particularly the airing of grievances. Frank’s voice booming out around the table, “I’ve got a lot of problems with you people and now you’re going to hear about it!”

He then proceeds to unload all the little annoyances he has with his friends and family.

I thought of that moment when I read Jesus’ advice to his disciples on how to approach others who have sinned against them in some way.

Now, I don’t know if Jesus would agree with the process of Frank Costanza, but he might think he is at least near the right path.

For the past few years (and truthfully – far longer than that and far longer than we’d like to admit), we’ve been living in a world that is seemingly at ‘odds’ with one another. Or at least at odds with the idea of one another. We grumble; we complain about others and the things they’ve done. We fret about someone who espouses a view that is in line with more liberal or conservative viewpoints. To the point where those words have become derogatory labels.

But, there are other things that we grumble about too that are a little more personal. I can’t believe she didn’t tell me about that. He talked to you and not me! I thought we were friends. You’ll never guess what your mother said this time. Why does my brother keep doing this stuff – doesn’t he know how this affects me?

Don’t even get me started on the grievances aired within communities of faith. In my time in ministry they have ranged from valid criticisms in how a situation was handled to the complaints about how there weren’t enough Christmas hymns sung during Advent – even though what they asked the church to do was already being done. But don’t worry, that last one wasn’t here at Redeemer.

This morning, Jesus gives his disciples instructions on how to ‘air those grievances.’

As we begin to read the words of Jesus this morning, I believe we like to think he’d be more in line with Frank – just laying it all out there. Saying your words, venting your mind, getting it off your chest.

Though, the more I think about it, this has less to do with ‘airing grievances’ and more to do with repairing relationships and the body of Christ. Knitting back the torn fabric that is community.

When someone ‘sins against you’ or you’ve (whether you knew it or not) sinned against another in thought, word, or deed – it hurts. A lot. We’ve all been on the receiving end of those painful moments, and we’ve all been the one to dole out that sort of hurt to others.

There’s brokenness. There’s separation. There’s death.

It is hard to speak up during those times. I know – it is very difficult to do what Jesus is asking his disciples – asking us – to live into. I still have trouble and at times have neglected to heed Jesus’ words from our text this morning in some situations in my own life.

Our life of faith is about relationships. And they are hard. It takes work. Investment. Love. Sometimes lots of love. Yet, we still live into our relationships and live into our community.

Why? Because that is how we have been created. Not to be lone wolfs, walking solo in life. We are created to be with one another. To share in our joys, to grouse together in our laments. To be with each other. Being with one another is so important to our God, that God literally came down to be with us. To wade in the messiness of life.

Our Lord understands how important relationships are. Especially when you – as Jesus said in our reading last Sunday – take up your cross and follow him. When you live a life that is foolishly counter to the powers that be, you need others there with you. As much as the world wants to promote a life of ‘pulling us up by our own bootstraps’ it’s false.

We live, work, worship, and play with one another. We depend on each other. We need one another. We don’t do any of this – faith, work, life – alone.

As the storms ravaged over Houston and the surrounding areas, as we anxiously await what another massive storm might bring – we come together. Being present with each other during times of need. When a loved one dies; we come together to mourn. When a hurdle is finally eclipsed; we come together to celebrate. When the stress and business of life pulls us down; we depend on others to hold us up.

Jesus knows that we need one another – that we need him. And Jesus knows how quickly sin can separate us and cut us off from one another. Our Lord invites us – continually – into the difficult aspects of this life of faith. Boldly approaching one another, in our love for one another, to talk about difficult subjects. To share the hurt that others have caused us or that we -that you – have caused someone else.

We are commanded by Christ to have those conversations. And they aren’t fun.

Yet, even in those moments we are not left alone. For the one who came to be with us in the midst of this messy life of creation is indeed the one who is present in the middle of those messy conversations as well.

I find it interesting that we usually attribute ‘where two or three are gathered’ only to worship – and rightfully so. But, we hear Jesus speak those comforting and promise filled words not in the context of worship, but instead in the context of repairing relationships. In the context of having difficult conversations.

We gather together in love. To worship. To pray. To support. To serve. To be sent. We do all of that out of love. Knowing in those moments that even if only two or three are there – Jesus is right there too. Yet, we forget that we also gather in love to have difficult conversations as well. To confront one another in the sins we have committed and in those moments when we feel someone has sinned against us.

Jesus is there too. In fact, Jesus said he’d be right there. Right here.

So, maybe Jesus would agree with Frank Costanza. We’ve got problems with one another, and now we’re going to hear about it. But, we say it not to belittle, to undercut, or to show dominance over another. But, we ‘air our grievances’ with one another because of not only our love for each other, but our God’s love for each of us.

Community is important. We are the Body of Christ. Love. Talk. Serve. Jesus is there. Amen.


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