Global Connections

October 3, 2021 Eph. 4:1-6/Gal. 3:25-29 

Maybe you have heard Kirk Franklin’s song, “Do you want a revolution?”  I was introduced to it at the Massanetta Middle School conference some years ago.  Creative young people have put dance moves to it- do you want a revolution? Whoop, whoop! The song invites believers to do something different because they believe in Jesus, to be revolutionaries, change agents.  Listen to some of the words: 

Do you want a revolution?  Come on now, do you want a revolution?

Sick and tired of the Church, talkin’ religion
But yet we talk about each other, make a decision
No more racism, two face-ism
No pollution, the solution?
A revolution–  Do you want a revolution?  Whoop, whoop!

Any careful reading of the New Testament shows us the revolutionary message loud and clear in Jesus Christ.  His teachings, his interactions with people, his death, and his resurrection shape a world-changing life that brings a revolution to the way people think about God and the way people live together on this earth. If he had not been a revolutionary, he would not have been arrested, tried, and killed by those in power who were more than uncomfortable with his ideas and his actions.

Jesus certainly intends for the revolution to go on after he is gone.  It is the revolution carried on by his immediate disciples, the revolution that becomes the church, made up of the Jesus followers who revolutionize their communities, who break down barriers, building connections around this globe. The apostle Paul becomes a revolutionary as well.  In his letter to the Galatian churches, Paul addresses congregations made up of mostly Gentile Christians, but also Jewish Christians – mixed congregations, as some would call them.

His words are revolutionary.  He says there is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.  How can he advocate removing such long-held distinctions between people?  Everyone had been born into a particular family with a particular culture.  Everyone in the church had a specific gender identity.  Everyone knew where they fit on the social ladder, determined by their livelihood, their ability to pay their debts, their inheritances. 

Paul dumps these pre-determined distinctions on their heads. For those Jewish Christians, the concept of removing the distinctions between themselves and the unclean, unworthy Gentiles was revolutionary.  For the Gentile Christians, the concept of removing distinctions between themselves and the Jews who had long put them down was joyful news! 

Paul was not revolutionary enough to attack pervasive social institutions like slavery or the oppression of women.  It was a given that women had second class status.  Slavery was a given in first century Palestine as it had been for centuries.  What he does say, however, is that even though these distinctions do exist in society, in God’s eyes, they do not matter. They are no longer to be barriers between us. When we are united as a family in Christ Jesus, barriers of culture, language, age, gender break down. 

We can all agree with this, yet we continue to make distinctions between ourselves today. We distinguish ourselves by age, even with names for the various generations like baby boomers and gen X.  In this country whites have a long history of abusive treatment of people with dark skin– pounding the message that ”you don’t matter” to Blacks for centuries, forcing Native Americans to march away from their homelands, interring Japanese in camps during WWII, and the list goes on.  We make distinctions between us, creating barriers, based on gender identity, sexual preferences, language, even the kinds of food we prepare.  How common is it for persons of one culture to complain about the smells emanating from the kitchen windows of persons of another culture?

Paul calls us with a revolutionary message to be barrier breakers.  The more we connect with people across this globe, the more barriers are broken. The more we intentionally learn about the culture of a friend with a different native language, starting with learning to pronounce his name correctly, and moving on to learning some words, the more barriers are broken.

We have easy connections anywhere in the world at our fingertips, creating less distance between us.  How about those who are joining us for worship today via zoom from Japan? It is 12:30 am there—that is a generous gift on their part to join us.  In case you are not familiar, a member of our church, Dorothy Taylor, served as a Presbyterian missionary at the Hokusei Gakuen School for many years, inviting this congregation to share in ministry with her and the school, which has since grown into a university.  Connections were made which have been renewed in recent years with a visit by two university leaders to Hunting Ridge, coming full circle! Our partners at Hokusei Gakuen have provided a beautiful Japanese wood carving to add to our global nativity set which you will see during Advent. 

Today our family gathers at the table.  I mean our family in this sanctuary, our family joining us via Zoom, our family in Cameroon, in Japan, in Cuba, and in the Dominican Republic.  The bread looks different in different cultures, but everywhere it is bread which sustains our souls, which connects us across the globe, the bread which is the body of Christ given for all—Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, young and old, native born and immigrant, gay and straight, brown or black or white or anything in between.

Do you want a revolution?  Come on now, do you want a revolution?

Sick and tired of the Church, talkin’ religion
But yet we talk about each other, make a decision
No more racism (no), two face-ism (no)
No pollution (no), the solution (no)
A revolution

Let us be a part of the revolution.  Let us continue to expand our global connections, breaking barriers.  Amen.

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