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SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST  

This is the day the LORD hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.  

Ezekiel 33:7-9 Romans 13:1-10 Matthew 18:15-20 Psalm 95      

The Good Shepherd loves and cares for all, the sheep who are in His flock, the sheep who are not yet of His flock, and the sheep who are wondering from His flock. In this gospel text He tells us what we are to do, and how we are to do it, in order to restore the wandering sheep. Jesus concern in this text is not the unbeliver but the brother in the LORD, a fellow member of the church.      

Our gospel today gives us practical advice for the church when it faces conflict. Problems should be addressed directly, rather than behind backs. Airing grievances face to face is better than letting them fester and do more damage. Such wisdom is helpful for all our relationships. If we have a problem with someone, we should go directly to that person.      

Conflict is part of life, and the church is no exception. However, the abundance of God's mercy and forgiveness enables us to both humble and be honest with one another. Paul writes: "Owe no one anything, except to love one another. Some say that you can be a good Christian without participating in a community of worship. Yet Jesus promises to be present when two or three are gathered in His name. We need the gifts, wisdom, and insight of one another. The challenge of living in a community becomes an exciting opportunity when rooted in divine love and forgiveness.  

When a Christian turns from God                                                                                And lives in open sin,                                                                                                              The church must take decisive steps                                                                       With love and discipline.  

PRAY with me. Grant, merciful LORD, to Your faithful people pardon and peace that they may be cleansed from all their sins and serve You with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our LORD, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy  Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen

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