This passage reminds us that we should accept one another’s differences and cultural practices relating to the ways we serve and honor God. Maintaining the integrity of the body of Christ carries more weight than “right” ways of doing or believing. It is God who issues the welcome to all. Paul encourages those within his community to speak ways of peace, along with words of affirmation and acceptance. Routinely taking this approach will help us experience a more loving and peaceful community and world.
Considering others beliefs and practices, particularly those that move us out of our sphere of comfort, may create feelings of anxiety in us. We usually want to hold to our familiar ways. However, our willingness to permit and engage in other ways of worshiping and honoring God allows us to affirm other approaches as valid.
As a hospital chaplain I witness a great variety of cultural beliefs while serving patients and family members. Respecting spiritual boundaries is an essential practice of my vocation. As I remain open to others, I discover endless possibilities that await a given visit. Creating opportunities to learn and understand the ways of another is critical in our melting-pot society.
Reflect on a time when you observed Christian religious practices that differed from your own. If you participated in the practice, what emotions surfaced? How did you resolve those emotions?

Creator God, I offer thanks and praise for those who are different from me. May I acknowledge the validity of their ways of honoring you. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 18:21-35

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Lectionary Week
September 11–17, 2017 Regina Franklin Basye
Scripture Overview

Exodus 14 narrates the Exodus event in stylized liturgical statements. It tells of God’s utter commit- ment to Israel and of Israel’s fearful doubt. This is a narrative “toward faith.” Psalm 114 is a buoyant, almost de ant cele- bration of the Exodus, in which all the enemies of Yahweh are put to embarrassing ight. It is recalled that Yahweh’s sovereign power to liberate is decisive for the world, as it is for Israel. In Romans 14 Paul struggles with the issue of free- dom within obedience and moves us beyond the letter of the law to its spirit. For Paul, the attitude of faith shapes human conduct. The parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew reminds all would-be disciples that law must be tempered with mercy in their dealings with one another if they expect to receive mercy from God.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Exodus 14:19-31. How can you tell when God is guiding you? When in your life have you wondered if God was still there? Reflect on those times.
• Read Psalm 114. “Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.” Substitute your name for Judah and Israel in this verse and pray the words several times. How does it feel to be called God’s sanctuary and dominion?
• Read Romans 14:1-12. How do you observe a weekly sabbath? Are there businesses in your community that close for a sabbath? How does that practice affect you?
• Read Matthew 18:21-35. Whom do you want or need to for- give? Why and how might you avoid this issue? How will you pray about this?

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