READ – Matthew 18.15-22
There once was a man in Saskatchewan, who got married. He had long been enamoured with the idea of marriage, so when he met the woman of his dreams, he proposed to her. She accepted.
Things went well at first. He told his friends that his new wife and marriage was all he had hoped they would be. She was beautiful, intelligent, with a good sense of humour. His friends observed that here was ‘a marriage made in heaven.’
Unfortunately, this initial bliss was not to last. Gradually, in day to day living, he began to notice certain imperfections in his new wife. She was beautiful, but not always. Sometimes, say before nine in the morning, she was rather plain. She could look stunning for social occasions, but marriage meant that he had to look at her before she put her makeup on in the morning. Yes, she was intelligent, but there were gaps in her knowledge, rather large gaps. This sometimes bothered him.
Slowly but surely he realized that marriage was more difficult than he had thought. Dancing on Saturday night was great, but marriage was more than dating. Marriage was bran flakes for breakfast, and someone sleeping beside you with really bad hair. It was disagreements over the household budget, visits from her Steinbach relatives, and that horrible looking lamp she had selected for the living room.
He still believed in love more than ever. He continued to cling to the idea of marriage. The idea was fine; it was the particular experience of marriage that bothered him. [Based on a parable by Will Willimon, which could just as well have been written from a woman’s point to view!]
I think you know where I might be going with this. The idea of church is exciting, even energizing. It’s the scandal of particularity that bothers us. We are fascinated with the idea of following Christ but may be disillusioned by the not so attractive particulars. The romantic poet, Robert Southey, once said, “I could believe in Christ if he did not drag behind him… the church.”
Well, I do believe in Christ, and I am committed to the church, warts and all. There is, no doubt, foolishness, pettiness, and triviality mixed in with the noble gospel. Christians argue, they disagree, and they sin. But in the Matthew text for this week, Christ entrusts the church, imperfect though we be, with the marvellous work of reconciliation and forgiveness. Join us this Sunday as reflect on being the broken body of Christ.