“United”, not “Untied.”
September 5, 2022, 7:00 PM

I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured
and have the knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ himself. (Colossians 2:2)

As my secretary was on vacation one summer (not at Kenmore, but at a previous church), I sat her desk, using the computer. On a small piece of paper on the desk a note was written: “United”, not “Untied.” I am not sure exactly why the note was there, perhaps a mistake had been made that she did not want to repeat. Whatever the reason was, it caught my attention and got me thinking. It is one of those mistakes that a spellchecker program would not pick up, because it is a substitution of one real word for another. It is also a very important mistake, because it changes the character of who we are. The error would make us the Untied Methodist Church.

This is a small error, except for the fact that United and Untied have opposite meanings. One is what we want to be; the other, what we want to avoid becoming. The fact that the United Methodist Church is coming unraveled notwithstanding, we do not want the Kenmore United Methodist Church to come apart at the seams.

What I find interesting, and instructive, is what makes the difference in these two words, and indeed in these two concepts: it is the position of “i.” Where “i” is (I am?) makes all the difference. It is an attitude thing. If I (and all the other “I’s” that make up “We”) see myself as part of a whole, then we are bound to one another – we are united. If I am committed only to myself, and my way, and my opinion, then we are untied.

The apostle Paul, in writing to the church at Corinth (see 1 Corinthians 12) used the concept of the church as a body. The parts of the body are not, nor can they be, identical. Yet they make one whole; they experience pleasure and pain together. Stub your toe, and see whether that small part experiences the event by itself. Kiss your beloved, and see whether the mouth alone responds to that pleasure.

Like Paul , and Jesus before him, my hope and prayer is that we may be one, united and not untied. This does not mean that we should all be alike, or think alike. It means that we should learn and develop the Spiritual Gifts that God has given each of us. It means recognizing the different personality characteristics that each of us has as a gift from God, and choosing opportunities for ministry that complement those characteristics. It does not even mean that we should all be in agreement all the time. It does mean that we should respect and care for one another, and commit to being one church together – the Body of Christ in this place and time – the Kenmore United Methodist Church.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Matt Stengel