You might have noticed a change in the name of this month’s newsletter. After the June issue was mailed, we received a letter from “The Christian Chronicle,” Inc. This is the international newsletter of the Churches of Christ out of Oklahoma City, OK. The editor and CEO indicated that they owned the copyright and trademark for “The Christian Chronicle” and that we were to stop using it. Some exploration demonstrated the problem. Even though we only send this out to members and special family, it also appears on our website. Upon doing a Google search we found our newsletter listed on page three of the search. Pretty amazing for a church newsletter. Thanks to all our friends who read about our church online.
At first I was offended by the tenor of the letter. After time, though, I realized that it was merely the legalize required of such correspondences. And even though we could retain the name for our mailing list, we would need to change it on the web copy. Therefore, the Christian Chronicle is retiring after more than 19 years and has become the Warner Robins Disciple.
This is not being done merely to comply with copyright and trademark laws. This is being done because it is the way the family of God is to settle disputes and challenges. In chapter 6 of I Corinthians, Paul instructs the church to settle matters among themselves without turning to civil courts. We are brothers and sisters, not complete strangers. We should be able to sit down and talk about problems with grace and compassion.
If you look in the current media, all issues are turned into a rabid attack between parties who are absolutely certain that their way is the only way. No mutual respect is apparent between parties, no sense of being part of the same family, no sense of hope for solution except the capitulation of one side or the other. We have watched this type of dispute rip through politics as well as churches. This is not to be the way of the church. We are to always listen with the ears of God’s grace and seek to discover our commonality; after all we are all part of the Body of Christ. Each part is as essential as any other; no one is more important than another.
At the end of this month, our denomination will gather in Indianapolis for our General Assembly. They have been events of great worship and celebration. They have also been events where tempers came close to tearing apart the Body of Christ known as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We may not be watched as closely as some of the large denominations, but we are still watched to see how and if we behave like the Children of God or like everybody else in the world. Will we listen and respect each other, especially when we have differences of opinion? Will we seek to include all voices or just the ones who will agree with the majority? Will our decisions reflect the Jesus who came to serve the sick and needy, not those who were powerful and important?
The heart of our church is the Communion Table. It reminds us that it is the Lord’s Table, not ours and therefore God is the host and decides who is welcome. Jesus ate with the outcasts of His world. Respectable people wouldn’t be seen with such people, but Jesus sat at the Table with them. The Table represents the willingness to give one’s life in love for others, and not just the closest of friends and family. Rather, this gift was given to all of us, especially people we would say were least deserving (like you and me).
Therefore, may “The Christian Chronicle” continue to experience the blessing of God in their work. May we all listen for the voice of God in ourselves before we demand what we deem to be our “right”; instead, let us make sure that the “rights” of all God’s children are not diminished in order that we might have our “rights”.