Scripture: Romans 13:8-14 (NRSV)
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
When listening to music, a discordant note, out of tune or out of place, leaves an uneasy ripple in the continuing tune. Subtly, the trust of ‘pleasant harmony’ is disrupted, and often leaves the listener waiting for another sound ‘out of place’ rather than resting in all that remains harmonious. As churches together, are we singing in harmony with honourable love?
Paul urges us to be alert to our behaviour, to the different ways that are acceptable in society, and the ways that we are called to live as God’s people. A salient reminder, in church life, that this conundrum still continues centuries later! He brings living in the Way of Jesus to the nub of the matter, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, in harmony with all God’s creation. To those outside the church community, are we acting with honourable love? Within our church, or within our own family and friends, are we acting with honourable love? Jesus speaks of ‘binding’ to the love that surpasses all earthly matters. He reminds us that when we gather, in joy or in difficulties, Jesus is there in the midst of us. Let us not be afraid then, to put on the harmony of honourable love which is laid before us.
Prayer of Confession
Songwriter of our soul,
we are saddened by our discordant ways.
We hear your lyrics of loving our neighbours,
and of enjoying harmony together;
about singing from the same song sheet
as one note in the many parts of Christ’s chorus.
And yet, in our fear of change,
our misunderstanding of coherence,
our unwillingness to sing in harmony
and with power of our own voice singing only one melody,
we drown out the gentle, simple constant message of your lyric:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Sing deep in our soul, O Songwriter,
Because we long to hear the harmony of your creation
And delight in Christ’s chorus of many parts.
Word of Assurance
In Jesus, we hear a song that has been sung since time began.
It is heard in the laughter and delight
of God’s people sharing together.
The Spirit hums it deep in our soul
and Christ’s chorus always has a place for our voice.
For where two or three are gathered in Jesus name,
He is there in the very midst of our togetherness.
Prayer of Intercession as Churches Together
Healing Spirit, settle in our souls.
When our church has disagreements,
encourage us to listen carefully, to hear your truth in the midst of differences.
There are many understandings and interpretations.
There are parts of the church needing adaptation and change,
and areas that need support and stability.
May we not crush an emerging ministry
or let go of an essential expression of church.
May we listen fairly to each other,
and be witnesses to each other
in peaceful harmony and with just engagement.
Let us be honourable in loving our neighbour
And bonding ourselves to the Word of Jesus.