when two or three are gathered in your name, you are there.
Be present with your family, the church.
Give us grace and maturity when we are in conflict.
Help us to listen, to forgive and to live together in mutual love.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
It's a bold frank collect, very realistic. And I would like to be a fly on the wall of the Cathedral to hear what the preacher may make of it. Matthew 18 is such a gospel to engage with. The best and simplest comment I have heard on Matthew 18 is below, a comment by a very wise and experienced pastor who understands the dynamics of congregations...
Love the envier. Love the gossiper. Love the poor nay-sayer. Pray for them. Listen to them. But don't let them infest the church - because everyone will suffer. Be as innocent as doves but as wary as serpents - because the folks who bring down a church often do their work in secret until the foundations crack beyond repair.
A woman who just lost her job said to me, “Sometimes an angel has to push you off the cliff before you get the help you need. I'm scared, but grateful I lost my job - because that's the only way the good that is to come can happen.”
Don't stop the angel from nudging. Let God help the troubler face the consequences of the hurt they carry inside but project onto the community. I always thought that the church should put up with all kinds of malevolence, and asking even the most destructive person to leave was not a Christian option. But now I know what looks cruel may be, in fact, kind."
This has been a strange day with odd moments of hilarity and anxiety - packing to travel for four weeks of flights, buses and walking, overnighting here and there and doubtless hordes of other tourists. Dunstan is unhappy, he knows something is up. He follows me from one room to the other and eyes the suitcases with deep suspicion. He clearly wonders about the early morning walk routine - or is that just me? Few chances for writing in the blog for a while I fear.