Jason Dahlman
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First, some good news:


Snow! Did you see it this morning? Our deck and trampoline were covered with those precious pearls from heaven…beautiful snowflakes to bring joy to our lives. Welcome Winter!!


A Prayer Request:


Please be in prayer for our Classis meeting that will be taking place this Friday and Saturday. The meeting will be taking place via Zoom and we’ve got lots of important topics to consider. I would appreciate your prayer for me as I will be functioning both as the vice-chair of Classis and the chaplain. I’m serving in both of these capacities in order to minimize the number of people who need to be physically present.


A Devotional Thought:


“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)


Okay, before I share my devotional thought I need to exercise my inner grammar-nerd. I used the word “ampersand” during a council meeting and was openly mocked (in a loving way, of course) because no-one knew what I was talking about. This is an ampersand: &. It’s that little, classy curlicue that means “and.” Okay, on to the devotional thought.


Remember the Ampersand


Allow me to explain. Bear with me. 


People think they know what two means because they know what one means. And since once and one is two then if you know what one means then you should know what two means. But the problem is that people don’t know what and means.


The word “and” is so important. It’s the place where one and one meet in order to form two. It’s the relational point of connection that turns two ones into one two. That means that the church is full of ampersands! Little points of connection where people who are different are united into one.


Can I speak candidly for a moment? We’re in the middle of a global pandemic (have you noticed?). This situation requires some sort of response from the church. In other words, we simply cannot proceed to do things exactly the way we did them before. 


But how should we respond? What is the balance between exercising faith in the sovereignty and goodness of God and taking reasonable and responsible precautions? Are masks a simple and necessary means by which we can protect one another or are they dehumanizing?


Okay, before you answer that last question, just breathe. I know that people in our church have strong feelings about these issues. And I know that we have strong opinions on both sides of this issue. And you probably know that even on council we are not all agreed on what actions to take. 


Is that a problem? It might be. But it doesn’t have to be. Remember the ampersand! We’re connected to one another by relational points of love. The verse above reminds us: Beloved, love one another! For love is from God and whoever loves is born of God and knows God.  


Okay, now think of someone in our church family that disagrees with you on the issue of how we should be responding to Covid. Think of a real person. Now remember the ampersand of Christian love that connects you to that person. Now let me ask you something. Have you understood that person? Have you understood that person's fears and concerns (we all have them)? Have you understood why they hold the position that they hold? Can you imagine what it might feel like to hold that position? 


Do you still disagree with that person? Of course you do! They’re wrong you’re right! Right? But do you love that person despite your differences? Are you willing to focus on the ampersand of love that unites us instead of that which might potentially divide us? Doesn’t that feel better?


But wait a minute! What has this silly little devotional about ampersands gained us? We still don’t agree on the best course of action. Some people are going to get their way and others are not. True. But at least we’re talking. And listening. And understanding. And relating to one another in a spirit of love.


And when we learn to focus on the ampersand then getting our own way starts to feel a little less important because we’re all united in a common goal: 


Loving God & Loving All People


True, it will be an ongoing conversation to figure how best to do that. But at least it’s a conversation. The worst thing that can happen at a church is for people to disagree and not talk about it. So if you’re feeling disgruntled or upset about how something is being handled at Ebenezer…and if you desire to obey the commandment of 1 John 4:7 to “love one another”…then here’s a healthy plan of action:


1) Ask yourself why this particular issue upsets you

2) Understand why the people who disagree with you hold the position that they do

3) Have a conversation with someone who disagrees with you in order to make sure that you have understood them

4) Make your concerns known to the leadership of the church. And do so in a way that’s gracious and loving

5) Pray for the health and unity of the church

6) Remember the ampersand!

7) Have a bowl of ice-cream (trust me, this always helps)


After following the 6 steps above I think that you’ll find that you’re not disgruntled anymore. In fact, by God’s grace, you might just find that you’re feeling quite gruntled. (That was a grammar-nerd joke). 


May you be blessed.

And may the Lord preserve, strengthen and bless our church.

With love,


Pastor Jason