Tag Archives: unity

Let’s Make the Church Together

Story of the Day for Tuesday June 19, 2012

Let’s Make the Church Together

  “I have given them the glory you gave me, in order that they may be one just as we are one.”

John 17:22

The tiny town of Donald in British Columbia had only one employer in 1897: the Canadian Pacific Railway. When the CPR decided to move its divisional headquarters west to Revelstoke, the citizens of Donald knew their village was doomed.

The railroad company offered to move any building in Donald to Revelstoke – free of charge. When the citizens of Revelstoke asked to have St. Peter’s Anglican Church, the railroad company began to dismantle it to move it to its new home.

Many of the residents chose not to move to Revelstoke with the railroad, but instead stayed in their mountain valley, moving south to Windermere.

Rufus Kimpton, a leading citizen in Donald, was one of those who moved to Windermere. Rufus’ wife, Celina, dearly missed her beloved church in Donald.

So Rufus stole it.

He had the disassembled church shipped by wagon and barge to Windermere and rebuilt. To this day it is named “St. Peter’s Anglican Church – The Stolen Church.”

While the church was being stolen, however, someone stole the church bell and installed it in their church in the town of Golden – causing their church to be renamed: “St. Paul’s of the Stolen Bell.” The citizens of Golden were so delighted with their heist that they held a parade in honor of their achievement.

The citizens in Revelstoke were upset and demanded the return of their stolen church and stolen bell. The citizens of Windermere were furious and demanded the return of the stolen bell – based on the dubious claim that they had stolen it first.

For over sixty years, resentment smoldered between Windermere and Golden over the rightful owner of the stolen bell. Then, in 1960, a group from Windermere stole back the 600 pound stolen bell from the church in Golden.

Officials in Windermere, however, decided it wasn’t right to steal a stolen bell and, since they already owned a stolen church, they returned the bell to the church in Golden.

Jesus prayed that his followers would learn to live in unity, but sometimes it looks more like his church has divided up into competing teams.

During a Vacation Bible School, a new student was brought into a teacher’s preschool class. The boy had only one arm and the teacher had no time to prepare his class from making inappropriate remarks to the little boy.

The teacher had the kids do their usual closing. Interlocking their fingers they said: “This is the church, and this is the steeple. Open the doors . . .” The teacher, to her horror, realized she had done the very thing she feared her kids would do.

As she stood there, embarrassed, a little girl sitting next to the boy put her left hand up to the boy’s right hand and said, “Davey, let’s make the church together.”

Why not?

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Which Foot Church?

Story of the Day for Thursday May 31, 2012

Which Foot Church?

 

                I call on you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, that there may be no divisions among you. 

                                                                                 1 Corinthians 1:10

 

When Jesus told us to wash each other’s feet, I think he meant that we are to show love by humbly serving each other. Other Christian groups, however, interpret his words literally: we should get a basin of water and a towel and wash other people’s feet.

Even if I don’t agree on how they interpret Jesus’ words, at least it is comforting to know that these groups are practicing a powerful act of love and service to others.

William P. Barker tells how a church in Tennessee practiced foot washing.  But then someone wanted to know which foot you should wash first.  The Bible isn’t real clear on this, and so an argument arose in the church about it.

The disagreement of which foot to wash first could not be settled, so the congregation divided.  Now there is a church sign which reads: LEFT FOOT BAPTIST CHURCH.

Isn’t it nice to know that this congregation can imitate the incredible humility of Jesus by washing people’s feet – in the secure knowledge that they are washing the right foot first? (By “right foot,” of course, I mean the “left foot,” and refer to the left foot of the “washee” rather than the left side of the one washing.  I think.)

 

Did you know that, for ten centuries, the Christian church was not divided?  The church had her squabbles, but, despite all the disagreements, believers lived in unity. The “Great Schism” occurred in the 11th century, and if focused on one word.  The West wanted to add the Latin word, filioque, to a creed, and the East objected.

I’m not going to explain the controversy, or the other issues swirling around it. I’m not even going to tell you which side I agree with.  My point is that it is sad that it had to come to this: that the day came when believers in Christ could no longer live in fellowship with each other.

 

Unity in the church is so easy to attain.  If every Christian on this earth would simply agree with all of my opinions and views, all divisions would evaporate.

Unfortunately, there are some of you obstinate souls out there who think you’re  right instead of me!  What are we going to do?

For starters, we must never compromise what we believe in order to create an appearance of unity.  But I have been amazed lately by how much we can erase misunderstandings and soften each other’s rough edges when we humbly listen to each other.

There’s no question about it: there is disunity among Christ’s followers based on doctrine.  But I believe the far greater cause of disunity is not those who hold to a faulty understanding of the Bible. Unity’s chief enemy is pride.

What would happen if we met those from another denomination – not first to argue,  not first to protect our egos, but to wash their feet?

If only we can remember which foot to wash first.

                                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

What Do You Mean ‘We’?

Story of the Day for Friday December 23, 2011

What Do You Mean ‘We’?

 . . .to prepare God’s people for works of ministry, so that the body of Christ might be built up, until we all reach unity in the faith. . .

                                           Ephesians 4:12-13

 The apostle Paul is teaching us something that is hard to put into practice. He talks about all the different kinds of people God puts in the church, and then he starts talking about the unity, the oneness, he wants us to share. Being different and one at the same time is no mean feat.

You see, sometimes we don’t look for unity; we look for uniformity. We assume everyone should have the same gifts. Try to imagine an orchestra where everyone plays the tuba. That’s uniformity.

Unity is much better. When woodwinds, strings, brass, and timpani all play different parts of the score, a beautiful sound arises.

 

Leaders in the church are often viewed as “hired hands.” We pay them so that they can do the work of ministry in the church. It seems like a sensible arrangement – until we take a second look at what Paul is saying.

Paul explains that church leaders are not supposed to do the work of ministry for the people, but rather to train the congregation so that they can engage in ministry. Church leaders are like band directors. They have a role to play, but so does everyone else.

 

Even the very word “ministry” sounds churchy – like something only preachers are supposed to do. But the word “ministry” is really an earthy, down-home word. It is the word the Bible uses to describe what Peter’s mother-in-law did when she served Jesus and his disciples. It is the word the Bible uses for angels feeding Jesus after his time of testing in the desert, and for servants who wait on tables.

 

When we serve, we’ll all working toward the same goal – reaching unity in the body of Christ. And everyone’s service is needed.

Once, an old man at a country church in Minnesota showed me the old pipe organ. Though it now pumps air with a motor, he told me that, years ago, he had the job of sitting behind it and pumping the bellows with his feet.

It reminded me of a story of a well-known organist many years ago who gave a recital on a pipe organ. During the performance the boy pumping the bellows looked around the organ and said, “We’re doing pretty good, aren’t we?”

“What do you mean ‘we’?” the organist scoffed.

A few minutes later, in the middle of a dazzling piece, the sound slowly started to fade out until it stopped. The young boy popped his head around the corner again. “We’re not doing so good now, are we?”

                                                 (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Dividing Cymbals

Story of the Day for Friday July 22, 2011

Dividing Cymbals

                     Its not that others should benefit while you suffer, but that there should be equality.

                                                                                1 Corinthians 8:13

 Many years ago, two churches, who jointly supported a Christian grade school, got in a spat and decided to close the school.

Martin Bangert wrote about the dissolution. All the textbooks were divided up evenly: ten geography books for you; ten geography books for us.

The process went smoothly until they came to the band instruments. There was only one pair of cymbals. So, what did they do? Rather than display a charitable attitude by offering the pair of cymbals to the other church, each maintained their rigid standard of equality: one cymbal for you; one cymbal for us.

A pair of cymbals is meant to be struck together to make a crashing exclamation point to a musical performance. But what do you do when you only have one half of the pair of cymbals? If two people both claim ownership to a pair of shoes, equality is the worst solution. Now you have two people: one with a left shoe, the other with a right shoe.

When equality becomes selfish, it is no longer fair; it is harmful.

 

When Paul talks about equality, he’s not talking about dividing up cymbals – he means something entirely different. Today, we could scream that his notion of equality was “unfair.” Paul urged that all believers should open their hearts to others in greater need. He wanted one church to generously give to help a poorer church.

How is that equality? Simple. As long as everyone maintains a kind and charitable heart, it will all work for everyone’s benefit in the end. When the first church, which gave so generously, is in need, then others will gladly return the favor to help them out.

 

When religious people asked why Jesus devoted so much attention to sinful people his response was that they needed more help. “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor,” he told them, “but the sick.”

 

KSHN-FM serves the cities of Dayton and Liberty, Texas. A conflict arose over whose Friday night football game they should broadcast. Should the station broadcast the game that was more important? Or should they just alternate weeks – despite the importance of the game?  Equality has half of the listeners unable to hear their favorite ballgame on Friday night.

But Bill Buchanan, the station president and GM developed an ingenious compromise called “Split Channel Sports.” Every Friday night the station broadcasts both football games simultaneously. If you want to listen to the Liberty Panthers you turn the balance control to the left speaker; if you want to hear the Dayton Broncos game, you use the right speaker.

Once both communities expressed their willingness to sacrifice stereo reception on Friday nights, everyone became a beneficiary. The sense of equality that doesn’t originate from selfishness is so much better than dividing cymbals.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre

Let’s Make the Church Together

Story of the Day for Wednesday June 29, 2011

Let’s Make the Church Together

 

                   “I have given them the glory you gave me, in order that they may be one just as we are one.” 

                                                                                    John 17:22

 The tiny town of Donald in British Columbia had only one employer in 1897: the Canadian Pacific Railway. When the CPR decided to move its divisional headquarters west to Revelstoke, the citizens of Donald knew their village was doomed.

The railroad company offered to move any building in Donald to Revelstoke – free of charge. When the citizens of Revelstoke asked to have St. Peter’s Anglican Church, the railroad company began to dismantle it to move it to its new home.

Many of the residents chose not to move to Revelstoke with the railroad, but instead stayed in their mountain valley, moving south to Windermere.

 

Rufus Kimpton, a leading citizen in Donald, was one of those who moved to Windermere. Rufus’ wife, Celina, dearly missed her beloved church in Donald.

So Rufus stole it.

He had the disassembled church shipped by wagon and barge to Windermere and rebuilt. To this day it is named “St. Peter’s Anglican Church – The Stolen Church.”

While the church was being stolen, however, someone stole the church bell and installed it in their church in the town of Golden – causing their church to be renamed: “St. Paul’s of the Stolen Bell.” The citizens of Golden were so delighted with their heist that they held a parade in honor of their achievement.

The citizens in Revelstoke were upset and demanded the return of their stolen church and stolen bell. The citizens of Windermere were furious and demanded the return of the stolen bell – based on the dubious claim that they had stolen it first.

For over sixty years, resentment smoldered between Windermere and Golden over the rightful owner of the stolen bell. Then, in 1960, a group from Windermere stole back the 600 pound stolen bell from the church in Golden.

Officials in Windermere, however, decided it wasn’t right to steal a stolen bell and, since they already owned a stolen church, they returned the bell to the church in Golden.

 

Jesus prayed that his followers would learn to live in unity, but sometimes it looks more like his church has divided up into competing teams.

 

During a Vacation Bible School, a new student was brought into a teacher’s preschool class. The boy had only one arm and the teacher had no time to prepare his class from making inappropriate remarks to the little boy.

The teacher had the kids do their usual closing. Interlocking their fingers they said: “This is the church, and this is the steeple. Open the doors . . .” The teacher, to her horror, realized she had done the very thing she feared her kids would do.

As she stood there, embarrassed, a little girl sitting next to the boy put her left hand up to the boy’s right hand and said, “Davey, let’s make the church together.”

Why not?

                                                                (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)