Hello BCWC friends and family,
As you all probably know, this weekend is Labor Day Weekend.   As such, the first Monday in September is set aside to celebrate the American Labor movement, to remember the social and economic achievements of workers and to honor the contributions workers have made to the strength and well-being of our country.   In a time when the Labor movement in our country is demonized by some, Labor Day is a good day to pause and give thanks for the Labor Movement and some of its achievements.  Some of those achievements are: the end of child labor in our country, the forty hour work week, a minimum wage and the right of workers to organize collectively.  These are just a few of the achievements, there are other achievements too.  We take some of these things for granted today.  We assume they are a given, but that was not always the way it was.  We would be well served today to learn or re-learn the history of the labor movement in our country.  I invite you to take a moment and do that this weekend.  
Our Scripture for Sunday come from Acts 15:1-21.  This passage is widely known as the "Jerusalem Council."  Many see this council as the "watershed event" in the book of Acts.  Others see it as a recapitulation, meaning summary, of all that has taken place in the story of the early church.  As a reader of Acts, you'll recall that the good news of Jesus has been accepted by Gentiles.  This leads to theological and sociological controversy.  Some believe these gentiles need to be circumcised in order to be saved.  Others believe the Gentiles need to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses.  Meanwhile others in the early church believe individuals are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus and do not have to keep the Law of Moses.  These different opinions lead to a conflict in the early church.  It leads to a theological controversy.  God is moving among the Gentiles in the first century, and the question is whether the church will keep up with the movement of God's Spirit or whether they will reject God's redemptive actions?  This controversy reflect an identity crisis in the early church, where some are concerned about maintaining the purity of the church and their identity. 
Thankfully, the church is able to discern God's will in this moment of conflict.  The way the early church resolves this conflict is instructive for us today.  Too often today we are afraid to approach theological differences and conflicts. We are afraid of disagreements, perhaps partly out of our own experiences of seeing a conflict handled poorly and ending badly.  And yet, what if theological controversy is used by God to initiate a process of discernment?  What if walking together through the controversy might lead us forward into a new way for a new day?  How might we handle such conversations?  How might we be community with each other?  Well, this passage from Acts is instructive to us.  We'll explore this story on Sunday and see what it can offer to us as we continually seek to discern God's will for our individual and communal life.
Pastor Dave