Experience Grace

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As the special session of the General Conference meets in St. Louis, I wonder what would happen if each delegate and bishop would let a simple prayer guide them through every discussion and debate.

May the Christ in me see and honor the Christ in you, and the Christ in you see and honor the Christ in me. Amen.

Maybe the spirit of the conference would be different. Maybe the witness that the church makes to the world will echo in eternity. Since I am not naïve enough to believe this prayer will be in the hearts of those in St. Louis, maybe I should make sure this prayer is in my heart ….and perhaps it will be in your heart as well. What if this prayer was the foundation of our marriages, of our parenting and our friendships? What if this was our prayer when we had those hard conversations and dealt with those difficult people in our lives? What if we recognized that God is in all people regardless of who they are? What would it be like if we treated others with the same reverence we give God? How would that change you? What might it do for your relationships?

In the Gospel lesson on Sunday we hear a story about a Pharisee and a tax collector who go to the Temple to pray. Jesus tells us that the Pharisee goes to the front of the Temple, looks up and in a loud voice prays, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” He reminds God that he is not like that tax collector; he does things the right way.

The Pharisee didn’t really “see” the tax collector. He saw him only as one of “those” people. He had no idea about that man’s fears and hopes, his dreams and aspirations, his pain and struggles. You see, he missed the image of God in the tax collector. Because the Pharisee missed it, he had no clue that he and the tax collector were probably more alike than they were different.

I wonder if the parable would have had a different ending if the Pharisee had whispered a prayer before walking into the Temple. Who knows? Maybe they both would have gone home justified.

May the Christ in me see and honor the Christ in you, and the Christ in you see and honor the Christ in me. Amen.

Breathe Peace,

Marty Signature BROWN

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