“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. But 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. If 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.Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, 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. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’” (Matthew 18:15-20) This week’s Gospel lesson presents a number of interesting points for us. First, it assumes that there will be conflict in the church: at various times and in various ways, we are going to sin against one another. And so we have a Gospel process for restoring fellowship: our goal is not to punish or to point fingers but to bring healing to broken relationships. Second, the process is not always going to work. Because of the importance of Christian witness, there may be extremely difficult circumstances in which restoration may not be possible and we will have to accept that the Body of Christ will be broken. But even then a new relationship is demanded: let them be as a “Gentile and a tax-collector;” no longer church but not an enemy either. For we must now recall that our Lord seeks out Gentiles and even tax-collectors for relationship! Finally (and most importantly), is the promise of presence: “where two or three are gathered, there am I.” Because the risen Lord is in our midst, we may practice forgiveness with confidence. Because the risen Lord is in our midst, we dare not ignore how we hurt one another, but we may never fully give up on one another either. In the light of our present national and ecclesial divisions, this seems to me to have tremendous significance. How are you and I called to relate to those with whom we have crucial disagreement? What if the “two or three” would agree to gather in Jesus’ name? What might happen if we agree together to look to Christ, even if we can barely agree to anything else? Are there people with whom you need to be reconciled? Looking to Jesus, the impossible becomes possible. Do not be discouraged, the risen Lord really is in our midst! Have a great week.