Euodia and Syntyche are at odds with each other, so much so that news of their conflict reaches Paul in Rome. Clearly, their disagreement is not minor, and apparently it has been unresolved for some time. Fellow Christians in Philippi have contacted Paul, asking him to intervene even from a distance. In his letter to the Philippians, he includes the problem in his writing and exhorts his two coworkers in ministry to “come to an agreement in the Lord” and recruit a loyal friend in Philippi to be a mediator toward that end.

God’s people can get it wrong in ways that rupture relationships among us and erode the common life of the Christian community. Paul knows this firsthand. He and Barnabas have separated over their sharp disagreement about John Mark’s usefulness. (See Acts 15:36-41.) From what little we know, it seems that Paul comes to realize he is mistaken: He later asks Timothy to have Mark visit him because he had been a big help to him in the ministry. (See 2 Timothy 4:11.) Paul’s exhortation to Euodia and Syntyche carries not only a note of urgency but also his belief that reconciliation can happen.

We live in a day when God’s people get it wrong in our disagreements and need to be reconciled to each other. Sadly, we often stay in our bunkers and settle for animosity and division. When we do this, we weaken our life together, and we diminish our witness in the world. Just as Paul knows the problems have to be addressed, we can pray for a similar conviction when believers are unable to get along with one another.

Dear God, keep me from escalating my disagreement with other Christians to the point where animosity wins over agape. As you see fit, help me be a reconciler when there are divisions in the body of Christ. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 22:1-14

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Lectionary Week
October 5–11, 2020
Scripture Overview

The texts this week remind us of how quickly we can turn away from God. Even while Moses is on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments—the first of which is not to worship any other gods—the people fashion an idol and begin to worship it. The psalmist refers to this story as evidence of how often the Israelites have gone astray, and yet God repeatedly has restored them. The parable in Matthew speaks of many who are invited to a banquet, yet they reject the invitation of the king. It is often read as a warning about turning our backs on God’s gracious invitation. Paul encourages the Philippians to seek God with confidence in difficult situations and to focus their thoughts in ways that lead them closer to God.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Exodus 32:1-14. When have you or your faith community gotten it wrong? When have you interceded with God on others’ behalf?
Read Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23. How has forgetting that you can be wrong hurt you or your faith community? How has admitting that you were wrong strengthened you or your faith community?
Read Philippians 4:1-9. What issue or conflict has divided your faith community? How might Paul’s urging to “be of the same mind in the Lord” help you work toward peace?
Read Matthew 22:1-14. What work might you need to do to open your heart so you can resolve a conflict?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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