Galatians 3:26-28 October 7, 2018
A Scripture Reading from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 3:26-28
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Here ends the reading, thanks be to God.
A story for Everyone
Today is World Communion Sunday – see how the table is set with many breads and fabric? In celebrating world communion – we are recognizing that people all over the world are gathered this day to praise and worship as Christians. In Africa and Australia and Europe and South America and in the Middle East and Asia. In the Democratic Republic of Congo they do grow wheat or grapes so they use rice cakes and kool aid in communion Christians. In the middle east, they use pita bread and wine. In Mexico they use tortillas. A variety of breads and juices for the great variety of people and cultures gathered around the table today.
There are children gathering for church school in countries where it is always warm, so they worship under in an open pavilion. Christians – followers of Jesus Christ – are worshipping in huge ancient cathedrals and in simple houses. One of the ways we remind ourselves that there are Christians worshipping all over the world is to have a variety of bread today.
World Communion Sunday offers us – here in the Upper Valley in Vermont – a distinctive opportunity to experience Holy Communion in the context of the global community of faith. The first Sunday of October has become a time when Christians in every culture break bread and pour the cup to remember and affirm that we are united as followers of Jesus Christ. On this day, we remember and honor that we are part of the whole body of believers. Whether shared in a grand cathedral, a mud hut, outside on a hilltop, in a meetinghouse, or in a storefront, Christians celebrate the communion liturgy in as many ways as there are congregations.
That is something to think about!
Children are invited to church school at this time.
Anthem “Una Espiga” (Sheaves of Summer) NCH #338
A Poem “Human Family” by Maya Angelou –
read by Maya Angelou: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F_aHt34a-g
I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.
Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.
The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.
I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.
I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.
Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.
We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.
We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.
I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.
We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.
We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.
I have to tell you that it is a hard morning to be a preacher. What to preach on this World Communion Sunday with terrifying images of the aftermath and suffering from Indonesia, with more immigrant children imprisoned in Texas and with the affirmative vote yesterday amid angry protests. What is the good news today? What is the language of hope?
We need to gather on a morning such as this. A morning when we feel queasy from the news, frightened by what has been revealed of power and assault, privilege and entitlement, when the past and the present and the future collide, overlap and confuse. We need to gather in community to sing and pray, to challenge and comfort, to bring our fears and tears to this place.
And I know too that some of you come this day desperate for a word of hope because you have your own fears and bad news that has nothing to do with the national news. We all gather here from our own places, friend and stranger, neighbor and visitor. Here, where we try to hold it all with love as we are held with love.
This week I have heard stories, some of your stories of sexual assault, some of your stories of brokenness, some are stranger’s stories, some are friend’s stories. I’ve had conversations with college friends who have regrets as they become aware of the pain they may have caused. I’m sure that you have heard stories too. I have prayed hard for healing and wholeness. And I have prayed for reconciliation and forgiveness for men who are haunted by their own drunken, adolescent behavior. I believe, ultimately that the truth will set us free. But I know that truth is hard to speak and often even harder to hear.
This is World Communion Sunday – the service, prayers, communion and music all planned with that celebration in mind, but we may come this day with heavy hearts and distracted minds. For many of us, our souls hurt. On World Communion Sunday we are called to focus on the diversity of Christians. World Communion Sunday promotes Christian community and ecumenical cooperation. So a history lesson is on order. (Wikipedia) The World Communion Sunday tradition began in 1933 by Hugh Thomson Kerr who ministered in the Shadyside Presbyterian Church. According to Presbyterian Outlook: Dr. Kerr first conceived the notion of World Communion Sunday during his year as moderator of the General Assembly (1930). World Communion Sunday grew out of the Division of Stewardship at Shadyside. It was their attempt to bring churches together in a service of Christian unity—in which everyone might receive both inspiration and information, and above all, to know how important the Church of Jesus Christ is, and how each congregation is interconnected one with another. World Communion Sunday was then was adopted throughout the US Presbyterian Church in 1936 and subsequently spread to other denominations. In 1940, the Federal Council of Churches (now known as the National Council of Churches) endorsed World Communion Sunday and began to promote it to Christian churches worldwide.
Why is this history lesson important? Because World Communion Sunday grew out of a time of profound lack in the depths of the Great Depression. It was then that Rev Kerr lifted up Christian unity – not uniformity – but unity in the hopes that we could learn from one another and recognize our interconnectedness. And did you notice when the National Council of Churches endorsed World Communion Sunday? In1940, with Nazism raging in Germany and aggression in Europe, on the cusp of WW2 – it was then that Christians around the world said “we belong to one another”.
I don’t know about you, but I find it interesting that today, I find myself most alienated from other Christians – not in Africa or Asia, Australia or Argentina – but here in our own country. I find that most confusing to me are those Christians who have embraced political power at all costs, who chant terrifying slogans, who turn a blind eye to deplorable behavior, all in name of Jesus. I feel most estranged from – and frankly repelled by – my American brothers and sisters in white evangelical churches who are celebrating this morning and thanking Jesus for what happened in our nation’s capital yesterday. Because whether you are republican or democrat, liberal or conservative, libertarian or progressive, what has unfolded these last three weeks is a low point on our nation. We have seen people in power – working to stay in power at all costs – with political maneuvering, lying, party lines, personal attacks and arrogance – so much arrogance. And not much humility from anyone. This is not a time to celebrate. It is a time to recognize the depth of our brokenness and divisions.
I wonder Is it worse to deny deny deny or to take responsibility and ask for forgiveness ? Because one seems to make you a lot more powerful while the other not so much. I wonder, are men really more in danger of false accusations or are women more likely to sexually assaulted? Because statistically women are in far more in danger, but somehow men have become the victims. I wonder is it worse to tell your painful story and have it not believed or is it worse to your painful story and be told it is credible, but it doesn’t really matter? Because both are deeply damaging to one’s soul.
So much arrogance. And not much humility from anyone. This is not a time to celebrate. It is a time to recognize the depth of our brokenness and divisions. Because wherever you are politically, you know that sexual assault happens – a lot it turns out, to people you know and love. Because wherever you are politically, you know that women do not feel safe, that people of color do not feel safe, that racism exists, that there are those who are privileged by virtue of gender, or race or economic status or education and those who are not privileged. And so too, you know, that we are all God’s children, loved with a holy love, that are called to care one for another, to proclaim justice and to live with compassion. You know too, but let me say it again, that Jesus offered himself to everyone, everyone, . . . . . you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, white nor black, citizen nor immigrant, American nor Asian, European nor African, prisoner nor free, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
THANK GOD that As Rev. Nadia Bolz- Weber says “God keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life . . . over and over.” – Nadia Bolz-Weber
And may the truth – the hard truth both told and heard – set us free.
In the greatest of hope, thanks be to God. Amen.