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Developing a New or Renewed Relationship with a Friend through Forgiveness and Offerings of Grace
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In my recent pastoral letter to the congregation, there was an invitation to observe a holy Lent.  In it, I enumerated seven disciplines to deepen our relationship with God in the journey toward Easter Day.


  • Deepening one’s prayer practices.
  • Broadening one’s observance of Bible reading for study and for edification.
  • Experiencing the tradition of fasting and other forms of self-discipline.
  • Developing a new or renewed relationship with a friend through forgiveness and offerings of grace.
  • Making a sacrificial gift.
  • Exercising the freedom to participate in the Sacrament of Holy Communion as often as possible, and
  • Conferencing with friends to review how we respond to the essential Wesleyan question:  “How is it with my soul?”.


In this blog, my focus is on the fourth point in bold print above.


The apostle Paul experienced every difficulty imaginable in his leadership of the churches to whom he wrote epistles and with whom he shared ministry.  One of the problems related to unity within the fellowship.  Jesus expected disciples of every generation to build up the fellowship.  In Matthew 18:15ff, the gospel writer illustrates the condition.  My short version reads like this:  When there is a problem among the company of believers, you are called to seek reconciliation.  And, Paul instructed similarly,  “Do not let any foul words come out of your mouth.  Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.”  (Ephesians 4:29)


The first century churches (with Paul, the greatest missionary, theologian, and pastor in the generation after Jesus and maybe ever, as their leader) struggled with this notion.  Consider the conflicts of the church at Corinth.  The writer of the epistle devotes the equivalent of a chapter to each of these topics:


  • Elitist groups in the church,
  • Divisions in the fellowship,
  • Sexual immorality in the church,
  • Lawsuits between members,
  • Marriage,
  • False gods,
  • Appropriate clothing,
  • Spiritual gifts,
  • The primacy of love,
  • Church administration,
  • The resurrection, and
  • Financial offerings.


Evidently, a measure of contention existed over each of these topics.  The Corinthian Church faced a great deal of work and prayer to discover the reconciliation that is intrinsic to faithful Christian living.


On a practical level, you and I might adopt the discipline Dietrich Bonhoeffer promoted at the Finkenwalde seminary.  If or when one person speaks negatively of another when the other is absent, then the source of the pejorative statements shall go to the brother or sister of whom they spoke and express the same in their presence.  The purpose is for brothers and sisters in the faith to find common ground for the common good.


Grace and peace,

Pastor Charles, Lead Pastor

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