Thursday, February 11, 2010

Families, friends and conflict

Today we remember the lives of Orthodox Saints. Today's example is sadly a story that is too ordinary; friends and family members involved in a dispute that leads to division and hardness of heart. My daughter called yesterday to say that one of her friends' brother was killed in an accident. The two siblings got in an argument four days ago and weren't speaking. When I heard that and then read this mornings story about St. Nicephoros I thought of something that a friend of mine, a Methodist pastor, recently sent the following to me. I include it here fyi. I found the photo on the website of the Daily Word - and I'm including it just because I like it! May you bring peace to others today- Rev Deb

In third century Antioch, Syria, Nicephoros was a layman and Saprikios was a presbyter , and they were friends. However, once after a disagreement, they refused to speak to each other. With humility, Nicephoros later tried to accept the blame, but the Saprikios was unmoved.
Saprikios was later arrested during a persecution and sentenced to die. Nicephoros waited along the path to the execution and begged for Saprikios' forgiveness, but Saprikios' heart was hardened. Finally Nicephoros told the executioner that he would take the Saprikios' place, and Nicephoros was beheaded.

Peacemaking is not avoiding conflict or running from problems…that is cowardice. Peacemaking is courageous. Also, Peacemaking is not appeasement or simply letting the other person have their
way…that is passivity. Peacemaking is active. Jesus was never a doormat. Jesus stood his ground and made things happen.
Second, some truths about unresolved conflict. Unresolved conflict blocks your fellowship with God. I John 4:20 "For anyone
who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen." I Peter 3:7 "Husbands …be considerate with your wives and treat them with respect…so
that nothing will hinder your prayers." ...Check out your relationships. Unresolved conflict hinders your happiness. Job 18:4 "You tear yourself to pieces in your anger." Resentment is consuming…it
monopolizes your attention, thoughts, and feelings. We all need to learn to be at peace…then learn how to become makers of peace.
PLAN a Peace conference. P.E.A.C.E. Matthew 5:24 "If you remember your brother has something against you go at once to make peace."
YOU take the initiative…”you go”. Don't wait for them to make the first move. It doesn't matter if you're the offended or the offender;
it is always your move. Why? Because Jesus said so. And because you are more mature. Schedule a face to face. (not via e-mail!) Conflict is not
resolved accidentally. You must intentionally deal with it. When? " once ..." Don't avoid or delay, it only grows worse.
EMPATHIZE with their feelings. * Philippians 2:4 "None of you should think only of his own affairs, but consider other people's interests also."
Pay attention to their needs. When you're upset, who are you thinking about? Yourself, your needs, your hurts. God says reverse
that. When you hold your peace conference, step into their shoes and think about them for a moment. What you are thinking and feeling is important, but you need to empathize with them as well.
Parents of children, adult children of parents, spouses, friends - all know they have to listen, be sensitive, and empathize with what
going on with the other person. One of the values of conflict is when you solve it, it usually leads to greater closeness because you understand them better. You've been listening and caring.
ATTACK the problem not the person. * Ephesians 4:29 "Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed." Don't go criticizing, condemning, and comparing. Say things that build people up, not put them down. You can't focus on fixing the problem and fixing the blame at the same time. It's impossible. If you meet planning to blame the other person, then forget it. Proverbs 15:1 "A gentle answer quiets anger but a harsh one stirs it up." Engage your mind before you engage your mouth. Be sincere, not sarcastic. You don't get the point across by being cross. Attack the problem not the person.
COOPERATE as much as possible. * Romans 12:18 "Do everything possible on your part, to live at peace with all men."
The hallmark of a Christian ought to be our ability to get along with other people. However, for all of us, some people are a
challenge. “Do everything possible.” Peace has a price…always. It costs your self-centeredness. “We” is the goal, not “me”.
Maybe they are right…or a legitimate gripe…or maybe they do know what they're talking about. Learn to say: "I was wrong" and "I'm

James 3:17 says "Peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness." Whatever you sow is what
you're going to reap. If you want people to cooperate with you, you have to cooperate. If you want people to be nice to you, you've
got to be nice to them. Whatever you're dishing out is what you're getting back. So you look and say, "What can I do? What seeds
am I planting?" If you are always planting seeds of griping, complaining, arguing, hassling, and putting down others guess what
you're going to reap. Start planting seeds of peace and cooperation.
EMPHASIZE reconciliation not resolution. * 2 Corinthians 5:18 "God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation."
Jesus models what God wants us to do. A synonym for peacemaker is reconciler -- one who brings people together. God sent
Jesus Christ to bring us to Him so we could have peace with God. God is the original peacemaker…Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
What Jesus has modeled God now wants us to do with other people. “Reconcile” means “to reestablish a relationship.” It does not
mean you resolve all the problems. A lot of times there are some legitimate, honest differences. Reconciliation means you bury the
hatchet, not the issue. You can disagree, agreeably. You can walk arm in arm without seeing eye to eye. Reconciliation focuses on
the relationship. When you help restore relationships you're doing what God would do. When God looks down on you and you are
taking the initiative to restore harmony in that marriage or in that office or with that parent or child - God looks down on you and says,
"That's my girl!" or "That's my boy!" That person is a child of God.
Who can be a peacemaker? Anybody. But first you must have peace on the inside of you. You can't spread peace if you're at war
on the inside. Only what you have can you offer to others.
A poem from the Panhala website
Why Regret?

Didn't you like the way the ants help
the peony globes open by eating the glue off?
Weren't you cheered to see the ironworkers
sitting on an I-beam dangling from a cable,
in a row, like starlings, eating lunch, maybe
baloney on white with fluorescent mustard?
Wasn't it a revelation to waggle
from the estuary all the way up the river,
the kill, the pirle, the run, the rent, the beck,
the sike barely trickling, to the shock of a spring?
Didn't you almost shiver, hearing book lice
clicking their sexual dissonance inside an old
Webster's New International, perhaps having just
eaten of it izle, xyster, and thalassacon?
Forget about becoming emaciated. Think of the wren
and how little flesh is needed to make a song.
Didn't it seem somehow familiar when the nymph
split open and the mayfly struggled free
and flew and perched and then its own back
broke open and the imago, the true adult,
somersaulted out and took flight, seeking
the swarm, mouth-parts vestigial,
alimentary canal come to a stop,
a day or hour left to find the desired one?
Or when Casanova took up the platter
of linguine in squid's ink and slid the stuff
out the window, telling his startled companion,
"The perfected lover does not eat."
Didn't you glimpse in the monarchs
what seemed your own inner blazonry
flapping and gliding, in desire, in the middle air?
Weren't you reassured to think these flimsy
hinged beings, and then their offspring,
and then their offspring's offspring, could
navigate, working in shifts, all the way to Mexico,
to the exact plot, perhaps the very tree,
by tracing the flair of the bodies of ancestors
who fell in this same migration a year ago?
Doesn't it outdo the pleasure of the brilliant concert
to wake in the night and find ourselves
holding hands in our sleep?
~ Galway Kinnell ~
(Strong Is Your Hold)