Paul: Living in community can be very challenging. We all bring our expectations, past experiences, personalities, etc. to community. This is true in a diocese, national church and in our international connections. I am mindful that all of the models for our prayers of the people include petitions for the unity of the church. Sorting out the contours of unity and diversity within Christianity is a major challenge. Jesus expressed a desire for Christians to be united as one (John 17: 17-24). He asked us to love each other in such a way that the world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples (John 13:34-35), We are far from this and I don’t see how we can find our way.
Cheryl: I agree with Paul, that perhaps most challenging is life in the church. Some of you might laugh at that, since clearly both of us have been called to ordained ministry, which thrusts us in the church morning, noon, and night. And I would hasten to add that I love my work. At the same time, it is challenging to navigate people’s expectations and differences in our own community, and even more so in the diocese, the national church, and beyond. As I enter all of these circles I often find myself thinking of the apostle Paul’s words in his letter to the Ephesians:
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine…But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
Speaking the truth in love is, I think, the key to walking with people in community. It doesn’t necessarily make it easier. Often what is “my truth” is not someone else’s “truth.” It would be easier sometimes to just “go along” to “get along. But if I am going to walk through this life in the church with integrity, I must be honest with those I live and work with.