Matthew 18:15-20

Where should the church be at this time when there are so many different conflicts? We look at this passage today and see only a prescription for how to handle problems within the church community, which we think means any problem we see it is our right to bring it forth and tell someone how they have wronged us, personally. We have to look at all this more deeply though. These verses come right in the middle of a chapter where Jesus has been trying to describe to the disciples about forgiveness. Right after the 99 sheep and the one that is lost, right after we are told to become like children to inherit the kingdom of heaven and so we need to look at this in light of all that comes before.

Which brings us back to the question where should the church be at this time? In South Sudan where there has been the outbreak of conflict in different areas of the country the church has been learning about reconciliation and peace. It is not going to get there if it is more concentrated on assigning blame and bringing people before one another or the whole church in order to solve this. There has to first be peace and then ways to look at reconciliation. The church leadership knows this deeply and believes the church needs to be at the front of healing. Classes have been taking place, a gift of Desmond and Mpho Tutu's book called The Book of Forgiving has been handed out. There has been much studying about how the church can facilitate reconciliation among the peoples of South Sudan. The church is at the center of trying to understand how to make a difference to make a broken community whole.

This is what the church needs to be about at this time? When there is unrest in communities the church needs to be at the middle of it, like it has been in Fergusson:  marching peacefully, listening to people's stories, distributing food and diapers, and showing up to say reconciliation is important for the wholeness of the community. It is the same all the world over whether in South Sudan, Fergusson, Israel, Iran, or anywhere. We are supposed to be the examples of reconciliation and peace in the world. This is why we have looked deeply into the Forgiveness Challenge by the Tutu's. Finding biblical stories and finding our own stories in them so that we might take the lead in being reconciles for broken communities and so that our own community doesn't become broken and fractured. How can you be God's reconciles in the world and in the community?