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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Paul Says, Sort it Out

My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be
known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in
everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be
made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. (Php 4.1-9)
Quick quote from "Writes of the Church" if I may.....

Dear Sir 
The vicar has suspended me from leading prayers in church.  Just because instead of standard “confessions”, I read out the names of a number of worshippers, and what they needed forgiveness for.
Makes you wonder what he is hiding.
Dr Sandra Ireland
We don't what happened to make Euodia and Syntyche fall out. Paul is kind enough not to mention the actual problem. Maybe it was a disagreement over who was on the flower rota that Sunday. Maybe one or the other had, like Dr Ireland, decided she was going to announce the other's sins to the church. Or was it a row over who was most important?

Doesn't matter. Whatever the row was about, it had made it to Paul. And Paul is concerned. Because a Church is not meant to have such rows that they make it all the way across the Roman Empire.

What I don't think it was, was a clear cut disagreement about something that really mattered. You know, like Paul telling Peter he was wrong about the Gentiles. This is less important, less arguable and therefore more toxic. The disagreement of the organist that thinks he should pick all the anthems and the vicar's decided for him. Of the powerful chap on the PCC who wasn't asked to be on the Christingle planning committee. Of the priest who never got the nod when a vacancy for canon came up.

So Euodia and Syntyche sit there as a reminder forever that churches don't grow or fall by their precision of doctrine - or Paul would have told them the answer. They aren't broken by one piece of dodgy furniture or architecture - in Paul's day they didn't even have buildings. But they can be poisoned by the little stuff - the grumblings and petty ambitions.

And yet the better way is given. Stop moaning about each other. Sort things out clearly. Be gentle.

Then pray, and give thanks to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, can flow from us to others - if we just let it flow in, first.

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