Excerpt from Psalm 133
"How good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!"
Martin B. Copenhaver
Just days after Easter - the Alleluias still reverberating in the old walls of the sanctuary - some members of my congregation were embroiled in a dispute. So the Psalmist's words seem particularly timely: "How good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!" We might wish that such a reminder were unnecessary in the afterglow of Easter. But if we are going to meet the Risen Christ, it is not in some otherworldly setting. No, it is going to be in a real church, in a real world, among real people who mean to love one another, but often find it difficult to do so.
I used to be fond of quoting the wag who said that the reason church fights are so fierce is that the stakes are so small. I have since concluded, however, that the observation is misleading. The occasion for church fights may be small, but the stakes are very high, indeed. Nothing short of the Realm of God is at stake in how we embody, in our everyday interactions with one another, what it means to worship the God who is love.
The church, like the family, is that rare place where we get a chance to practice living with people we did not choose. And when we love the ones we are stuck with, it is a sign and a witness to the love of God, who is stuck with us all.
O Risen Christ, help me to manifest the promise of Easter - the triumph of love against all odds - in my small, everyday interactions with those around me. Amen.
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the author, with Lillian Daniel, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.