Daily reading: Acts 15:1-19
Friday May 19, 2017

This debate of what we need to do or confess or say to be in community has continued throughout history.
We are just months away from celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.  Healthy debate was not the rule of engagement back then.  Wars were fought and families were divided.  Roman Catholics did not believe that the Protestants were true believers and conversely the Protestants did not believe that the Roman Catholics were either.
As the Protestant movement developed, rather than being one it splintered into denominations who then had suspicions about the worthiness and faithfulness of one another.
It was during the splintering that our denomination was founded as a pathway to unity.  The Stone Campbell Restoration movement sought to strip away all of the tests of faith that divide us and find the essentials that unite us.  While we have yet to unify all Christians, we find that within ecumenical communities that we become the peacemakers that bring to light our commonalities.

When a variety of voices are welcomed into a discussion, differences will surely arise.  It can and should be seen as a sign of health, especially when we treat one another with respect and kindness in sharing those differences.  Discussion or debate when done in the Spirit of faithfulness then becomes an opportunity for spiritual formation and growth.  It provides fertile ground for us to expand our relationship with one another and our experience of God in the world.  We are called to find grace-filled resolutions to the essential questions or issues that divide us.

We should always be open to the Spirit’s guidance to blaze new paths forward for us, where we allow God to lead and not our past and traditions to direct.

Weekly practice: Practice being fully attentive to what other people are saying.  Deeply listen from a place of empathy.  Seek out moments to have conversations in person this week rather than messages through text, email or social media.  Find a place of commonality.

Prayer: Graceful Guide, you call us to fully see and deeply love one another.  May your unconditional love fill us and seep into every moment this day, even in the really difficult ones.  Amen.


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