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I remember when my kids were small, we had a video cassette recording (remember those?) of a fantasy thriller that they watched over and over, appropriately named, “The Never Ending Story.” Personally, I thought the story line was a little lame, and the voices often didn’t match the lips of the characters, but my kids didn’t mind; they loved the story that never ended, at least in theory.
In real life we are not always sure what to do with stories that never end. If your team or your relationship is going well, you want that story to go on and on and on. When things are not going well, personally or professionally, we all want the suffering and conflict to end, the sooner the better. But simply wanting a bad situation to end does not make it so.
The Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (ACELC) has recently concluded its sixth Free Conference, “Christ For Us: Dispute Resolution.” None of us like conflict and most of us really want conflict resolved in a God-pleasing way, so it is good to examine the “process” and reflect on what has worked well and what could work better.
For two days we heard the Word of God with regard to both conflict and reconciliation, heard many fine presentations on the history of Dispute Resolution in the LCMS – and some of the highs and lows of how Dispute Resolution has worked and evolved. We were also asked to consider other, time tested ways, of handling disputes regarding doctrine and practice. Perhaps most importantly, we were reminded that the “key” to the reconciliation process is the forgiveness of sins, won by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and distributed in Word and Sacrament through His called servants.
Confession and absolution. Sin and grace. Sinner and saint. This is the reality for the Baptized child of God on this side of heaven. It never ends because God’s love in Christ is never exhausted. It is our prayer that the Word of God would have its way with us, and that true dispute resolution, the forgiveness of sins, would abound among us.
Videos of all the conference presentations and chapel sermons are available for your viewing and most of the presentations are available in print form as well. Please check them out. We seek and value your feedback and would love to hear from you on this or any topic that we have identified. We would also like you to reserve the dates for the next ACELC Free Conference, “Christ For Us: The Order of Creation,” August 29-31, 2017, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Rev. Clint K. Poppe