“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” - Ephesians 4:1-3

I don’t know how it happened, but I turned into one of those people who starts thinking about Christmas just days after the Halloween costumes are put away. I sneak in an “Oh Holy Night” or two, start scheming about the gifts I want to give, and block out the calendar for our favorite traditions: St. Nicolas and raclette. For the last couple of years, we sailed through Thanksgiving and landed on December 1st before I had given much thought to how we might observe Advent. I determined not to do that again this year. And especially with the week we just had, my yearning for the Lord to come is renewed.

Whether you are trying to cope with this election season by making jokes about the misguided nature of the Boston tea party and joining back with Britain, or if you are optimistic about policy changes to come, it’s hard to feel entirely good about our current political climate. If my Facebook feed is any indication of the state of the church right now, we are ripe for another major schism. Depending on your preferred online Christian resources, you may have read arguments about various voting ethics that left you feeling like there was a “Biblical” way to vote, and it meant selecting Candidate A. Many prominent evangelical figures even went so far as making endorsements for a preferred candidate, adding to the division and confusion.

In the early days of the church, the Corinthians experienced a similar kind of division—they argued over who followed Paul or Apollos or Cephas, but Paul himself sharply rebuked them about the divisions they were creating, opening his letter with an appeal that “all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). 

He explains, “For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (1 Cor. 3:3). This condemnation of division comes in the same letter that urges surrendering our rights for the building up of others (chapters 8 and 9), working together as one body (chapter 12), and the famous “love is patient” passage (chapter 13).

But how can we possibly all agree? Shall we make long-winded arguments to sway one side over to ours? Shall we diminish the voices of those who disagree? Contrary to some of the rhetoric online, the Bible places more emphasis on the posture of our hearts than the holes punched on our voting card. And when it comes to unity in the church, the call is clear:

In Philippians, Paul urges, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” (Phil. 1:27).

And again, in Ephesians, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).

This kind of unity has been palpable within my community here at Cornerstone. No matter where each of us lands on the political spectrum, we commit to live according to God’s word, not the latest round of tweets from Prominent Figure C. These rich friendships don’t require that we all follow particular social trends or agree on foreign policy. Instead, we engage with each other and the world by following Scripture’s calling to pursue heavenly wisdom, to be slow to anger and quick to listen, and to build one another up by showing honor. Among this community of believers, I don’t feel the need to unfriend anyone.

Which brings us to tea. The annual Cornerstone Christmas Tea is one of those unique events where we invite women to experience this depth of community. Of course, every Sunday service and weeknight community group is open to new faces, but the Tea provides a different kind of foot-in-the-door. Tables at the event are hosted by women who are eager to connect with you—to introduce you to the family and share what Jesus is all about. One of our own, Amy Carbo, is going to speak on how we pursue a truer, deeper, life-changing happiness, an apt topic as we close down the polls and prepare for Advent. (If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’ve also read some of her amazing writing, like this and this.) I am excited to hear God’s Word taught by a woman in our midst. 

We hope you will join us on December 3rd for a different sort of tea party than you’d find in Britain or Boston or down the proverbial rabbit hole. Log off your social media and take a seat with our family as we prepare for the coming of our Lord. And if you don’t know where to sit, there is still room at my table.

Meredith Storrs

Meredith serves Cornerstone with the Women’s Ministry and as a Global Liaison.

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