Gracefully Disagreeing

Dear People of Grace,

When I’m asked what is one of my favorite things about Grace Lutheran, I often list our amazingly diverse community, with our many opinions and perspectives. I’ve heard many of you do the same. (Not all- it seems we have a diversity of views on even this!) I think this is one of our greatest strengths, and one of the ways that the Holy Spirit teaches and forms us into better people.

But sometimes, let’s be honest, it makes life in our congregation a little more challenging, doesn’t it? Lots of passionate views means sometimes, often, we disagree! We get more practice as lovingly disagreeing than just about any congregation I know, and we often do it very well.

But you and I both know…..sometimes….. sometimes we have conflict that is more than just disagreement. Sometimes you and I get upset about the things we disagree about. Every once in a while we offend each other. Occasionally we accidentally hurt each other- once in a blue moon we have, in a weak and angry moment, said a hurtful word on purpose. And it might have happened once or twice- too often!- that we’ve gossiped to a third party.

The good news is, this means we’re human. Every single human community (even ones full of Grace!) has moments like this. God knows this, and our Scripture writers know and address these challenges of living in community. We are encouraged to always go to the person with whom we have a disagreement, not to someone else in the community! Complaining to someone else doesn’t solve the problem, and sometimes makes that person stressed and upset too. Instead we are taught to sit down and talk with the person we disagree with. I know I haven’t always been perfect about this, but I hope we can all work together on getting better.

Threatening to leave the community over a disagreement is another unhealthy way to respond to a disagreement. When we are in conflict, we talk about it. Leaving ends a relationship that might have a chance to heal, and threatening to leave in order to get one’s way is not loving and trusting of God’s Spirit to guide.

Most of the time, we resolve our conflicts very, very well. We who are blessed with many opinions have many responsibilities to practice, and I think we can do even better!

And even our conflicts, even our moments of deep passionate disagreement, become opportunities to hear God’s voice, if we talk about them together! Praise be to the glorious Trinity, who has given us so many ways to hear the divine voice in each other!

Trusting God who is always moving among us,

Pastor Lura

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