Matthew 18:15-20 (NRSV)
15"If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."
As my congregation’s high school youth prepare for their summer service trip each year, they work together to create a team covenant that will define the expectations and intentions of the group. We agree upon the commitments we will make to each other that will help us build a healthy community as we travel, eat, sleep, work, pray, play, and worship together. The last section of the covenant addresses how conflict will be handled within the team—and we use Matthew 18:15-20 to guide us. When you breathe the same air and occupy the same space for ten consecutive days, there are bound to be irritations and conflicts that arise! Matthew 18 has helped our group address those conflicts in direct and forthright ways. We know that God is in our midst and that our agreement with one another will lead to a life-giving Christian community.
God of covenants and promises, over and over, you give us the ultimate example of what it means to follow through on promises for the sake of beloved community. Fill us with the kind of love and commitment to one another that leads to fullness of life with Christ. Amen.