In light of our recent catastrophe it is a good time to rehearse our faith. More than ever I believe in one church (In Greek: ekklesia) a people of God called into a community of peace, grace and mercy. We are not to be devoted to a building or a denomination but of being a people of God who display his peace, mercy and grace. We are to be one holy catholic church. Cath-olic in Greek is katholikos meaning "according to the whole." What is going to happen in Minot in response to this flood? It will be "according to the whole" community of faith.
There are several congregations in our city that have suffered extensive damage to their buildings and many homes (beyond our comprehension) have been lost. It will take a whole, holy people of God to demonstrate grace, mercy and compassion to heal the wound of this city. I believe in the church in this city to lead the way in that healing.
Before the New Testament was put to pen and paper the early church used the Didache, a small book of instruction to train people in following the way of Jesus. The Didache opens with these words: "There are two ways, one of life and one of death! And there is a great difference between the two ways. The way of life is this: First, you shall love God who made you. And second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you." The Didache goes on the describe how to live a simple life of love. It tells us to "accept whatever happens to you as a blessing, knowing that nothing comes to pass apart from God." That is a hard place for us now in the passing of the flood. But love calls us out from our grief to respond in hope, confidence and grace. This early teaching bids us not to hesitate to give, and do not complain about it. You will know in time who is the good rewarder. "And do not turn away from one who is in want; rather, share all things with your brother, and do not say that they are not your own. For if you are sharers in what is imperishable, how much more in things that perish!" Simple teachings that we see echoed in the Gospels we now treasure. They tell us simply that there is a way of love and there is a way that is not love. The call in this hour we must choose the way of love.
Rev. James Shackelford
Many of us take time in our gatherings for worship to "pass the peace." In this hour of need, let us as a whole, holy, and called people not leave the peace within our congregational buildings, God is calling us into the city and he is asking us to "pass the peace." Hug one another, embrace one another and help one another. And let people hug you, embrace you and help you. Let us choose in this hour the way of life the way of love.
The Rev. James Shackelford is pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Burlington
Reflections, a mini-sermon written by Minot and area clergy, will appear each Saturday in The Minot Daily News. Clergy interested in writing a mini-sermon should contact Religion Editor Loretta Johnson at 857-1952 or Debbie Sandvold at 857-1950. The toll-free number is 1-800-735-3229.