What We Do for Love
Scripture: Romans 14:1-12, 13-23
[Scene: A meeting of the church worship committee, three people sitting around a table.]
Linda: Well, Blake and Emma, I guess we better get started with the business of our worship commission. The first item is a request that we serve wine for communion instead of grape juice.
Blake: That's a great idea, Linda. The Lutherans do that. So do the Episcopalians. Why don't we?
Emma: But, Blake, we have a policy that our church is alcohol free. We don't even allow wine at wedding receptions.
Blake: Yeah, that's probably why we don't have many wedding receptions at the church.
Emma: If we have drinking at the church, what will be next? Marijuana cookies at the coffee hour?
Blake: That might increase attendance.
Linda: Wait a minute. No one is talking about marijuana cookies at the coffee hour, or hard liquor at wedding receptions. We are only talking about wine at communion. Didn't Jesus use wine at the Last Supper?
Blake: It was a Jewish Passover meal. Of course he used wine.
Emma: Maybe so, but that culture was different. Jewish people in Jesus' time were accustomed to drinking wine in moderate amounts. They didn't seem to have the problem with alcoholism that we have in our culture.
Blake: Who in our church has a problem with alcohol?
Emma (hesitating): Well . Maybe I do.
Linda: You, Emma?
Emma: Look, I don't make a big deal of this, but years ago I had a drinking problem. It got pretty bad. I went into treatment three different times. The last one finally worked. I've been sober for six years now. But even the smell of it can still get to me. I guess I appreciate not having it around when I come to church.
Blake: But, Emma, why should your problem limit my freedom to have wine at communion?
Linda: Blake, don't you remember the scripture we heard in church last Sunday? It was from Romans, chapter 14. Paul said, "If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat (or drink!) cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died." Emma, here, may not be the only one in our church struggling with alcoholism. Maybe grape juice instead of wine is our way of showing solidarity with them.
Blake: Okay, okay. We can skip the wine at communion. I'll have more at home.
Emma: And I won't criticize you for it.
Linda: Okay, that sounds good. So we come to our next item. This is a request to allow people to bring pets to church.
Emma: That sounds like a great idea. We have trained our dog to be a therapy dog. We take her to visit elderly people in nursing homes, and they love it. She is very friendly, and when she comes up to people and they pet her, it seems to make them feel better. They get a smile on their face.
Blake: And what are we going to have next? Cats jumping on the backs of the pews? Someone's ferret crawling up my leg?
Emma: Haven't you ever seen churches that do a blessing of the animals on a Sunday morning? It's great. It is one of the biggest attendance Sunday's of the year. We would probably get more people in our church if we allowed pets.
Blake: And what about the people who are allergic to dog hair? Where are they supposed to go?
Emma: Who is really allergic to dog hair? Blake, do you actually know anyone allergic to dog hair?
Blake: Yeah. .. Me.
Linda: I always wondered why you never had any pets. I know your wife loves animals.
Blake: Yeah, she does. She would love to have a dog. But it really affects me when I am around one. Cats, too. We've just had to accept that we can't have one. It's been one of the compromises of our marriage.
Linda: I guess that's what you do for love.
Emma: So I suppose it must also be one of the compromises for our church.
Blake: It sounds like you are criticizing me for it.
Emma: No, I guess I'm just disappointed.
Blake: Yeah, so is my wife.
Linda: Okay, I guess that settles that item. We have one last item on our agenda. The praise team would like to put a drum set in the sanctuary.
Emma: A drum set! I suppose that means we'll have rock music in church. Next thing you know we'll have flashing lights and a disco ball.
Linda: I don't think anyone has mentioned a disco ball.
Emma: But drums are so loud. Why can't we just sing more great hymns like "How Great Thou Art"? You don't need drums with a great hymn; just a powerful organ!
Linda: Aren't organs sometimes loud?
Emma: Well. yeah. But they are loud in a different way.
Blake: My problem with contemporary music is that it is so shallow. It's just choruses that repeat over and over the same words.
Linda: You mean like the "Hallelujah Chorus"?
Blake: That's different.
Blake: I don't know. It's just different.
Linda: It is not the abundance of words that makes a Christian song powerful. It is the connection between words and music. The music gives the words a deeper connection to us, a certain emotional power. That's why an organ makes "How Great Thou Art" sound so great. But drums can do the same thing for other Christian songs.
Emma: This time I agree with Blake. I just don't like the thought of a drum set in the church.
Linda: But it is not like wine in church, is it? I mean you are not harmed by it, are you?
Emma: Well, no, as long as it doesn't hurt my ears.
Linda: And Blake, you are not allergic to drums, are you? You are not going to have a sneezing attack.
Blake: No, I guess not.
Linda: So you have preferences, which I totally understand. But what if some of the newer Christian songs help build people up in their faith the way the old hymns do for you? What if people are inspired by "We Fall Down," just as much as you are inspired by "How Great Thou Art?"
Emma: I suppose you are getting ready to quote the Bible to us again.
Linda: Did you have a verse in mind?
Emma: Yeah, that verse we heard last Sunday. The one in Romans 14 where Paul says, "Let us then pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding."
Linda: That's a good verse.
Blake: I guess that's what we've been doing in this whole meeting, isn't it? Looking for the things that make for peace and mutual upbuilding.
Linda: It's just like marriage. It's what you do for love.