WORD FROM THE PASTOR
Have you ever had a moment when a passage of scripture just struck you? Has that moment ever grown into days and weeks? Has a piece of scripture ever just caught you and you are left thinking on it and about it? That began for me last night. In week 3 of our Stewardship Bible Study we studied 1 Peter 4:7-11. I am still struck by verse 8-10, “8Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”
Maintain constant love, this is a challenge. In the midst of a world of individualism, where we are so concerned about how others actions impact us we forget our actions impact other, it’s hard to love those with whom we disagree. When we are hurt by another, it’s hard to love them. When we disagree with another’s point of view, it’s hard to love them. Yet love is of primary importance to God and to what it means to live in community.
Be hospitable…without complaining, another great challenge. I wonder sometimes if this even possible. Sometimes we may feel “put out” by having to make a place or space for another and we vent that to anyone who will listen. Yet hospitality goes beyond “hosting”, it is allowing others to be fully who they are in our presence. How often do we complain about another’s habits or traits? That is not being hospitable. We are called to allow people to be who God has created them to be and not try to make them be as we would have them be in order to be a part of our community. This is a challenge when we tend to want to only be in relationship with those who are like us – think like us, look like us, act like us. However, God calls us to welcome the “other” and allow them the space to be a part of our community as they are.
Good stewards of the manifold grace of God…. Stop. Don’t go there. This does not say, “good money managers of the manifold grace of God.” Stewardship is a caring for and goes well beyond finances. It is a willingness to recognize that this world, like the world to come, belongs not to us, but to God. We are asked by God to care for it and tend it and share it with one another, and in this passage, we are encouraged to be, as Laura Watson shared, “grace dispensers”. This made me wonder what our congregation, our community, our world would look like if this how we behaved 100% of the time. I know that I struggle dispensing grace constantly. Yet this is the call of God in love, to share grace wherever and with whomever we are.
Serve one another with whatever gift each of you have received. Did you notice there is no question about whether or not you have received a spiritual gift? It is not an if, or when, but a with. With the spiritual gift God has blessed you, serve the community, the people of God. We do not all have the same gifts, but all gifts are needed. We do not all have the same gifts, but we serve the same God who now calls us to serve one another.
As our communities, our country, and our world start to emerge from the unknown of the coronavirus, may we do so as “grace dispensers” not expecting everyone to be where we are, but willing to allow others to be where they are. May we serve as agents of love and understanding even as we pray for God patience and grace for ourselves when we become frustrated and angry. Above all, may be maintain constant love knowing we are all human, all fallible, all in need of and all able to give God’s love.
In Chrirst’s service,