Greetings St. John’s Lutheran Church!
[Jesus said to the disciples:] “I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment…. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. –Matthew 5:21-24
Ours is not a culture that handles anger well. Many of us, especially women, are taught that it is unseemly to be angry and that, should we feel anger, we should hide the feeling – cover it up and bite our tongue. Others of us become consumed by the feeling and find ourselves losing control and saying or doing things that we soon regret. Few of us are taught constructive ways of expressing anger or of uncovering the hurt beneath our anger.
If you are angry…
In this scripture, Jesus acknowledges that anger is a natural part of the human experience and one that has the potential to break apart relationships and community. Jesus is not foolish enough to think that anger will ever be eliminated among his followers. Instead, he counsels us on what to do.
How many of us put off apologizing after we lose our temper due to pride or fear? According to Jesus, resolving the conflict caused by our anger is urgent. Here, reconciliation takes precedence over worship. At the beginning of most of our worship services, we pass the peace. This is a time when many of us joyfully greet our brothers and sisters whom we may not have seen for a week; however, this can also be a powerful time to reconcile if we have been angry with someone.
…then come and offer your gift
The urgency of Jesus’ call has only increased in today’s political environment of division and conflict. May we be ambassadors of God’s peace in a world in desperate need of the gift of reconciliation.
In Christ, Pastor Kat