Sunday, May 13, 2018

Living Together in Unity

Today's Reading:
Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:18
Hebrews 11:32-12:13
Psalm 133:1-3
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Focus Verses: Psalm 133:1-3
1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

We all know what it's like to experience high traffic and increased delays on trips to very popular destinations or public events. In the same way, the Israelites making their feast day pilgrimage must have dealt with busier roads and larger crowds the closer they got to Jerusalem. By singing Psalm 133, they were reminded that the long lines and crowded conditions (which I assume were at least as challenging and wearisome for them as they are for us) were actually reasons for thanks and celebration.

Why? Because these crowds were the result of God's people coming together in obedience and reverence for God. The gathering throngs of Israelites were giving witness to their need and love for God. They were declaring God to be the center of their lives, the basis of their community, and the center of their national identity.

Unity was a joy and a blessing from God. It was being poured out upon them--just as the oil of blessing had been poured upon Aaron so abundantly that it flowed down to the edge of his robes. Unity was a life-giving gift, just as the streams melting from Mount Hermon's snowcapped peaks flowed down to bless and enrich the green valleys below.

Response and Action:
I want to know the joy of living in unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I want to look past the hassles and demands of community life, and celebrate the blessing God has intended it to be. I want to recognize that the shared relationships, activities, and responsibilities I experience in my church are a gift from God, a blessing to my life, and a testimony to the world. I want to be a community builder in my church family. I want to sing out the joys and the goodness of God's people living together in unity.

O God, you have made me for community. You have said that it is not good for me to be alone, and you have given me so many ways to experience the blessing of togetherness. I thank you for my wife, for my children, for my parents and siblings, for my church, for my friends, for my colleagues, and my neighbors. Help me to be a faithful source of blessing to others. Give me a readiness to serve, a heart to forebear, a word to cheer, a discipline to pray, and a maturity to enrich others, through Christ Jesus my Lord and Savior, in whose name I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Philippians 2:1-4 
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 34 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Life Together
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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