"There is no longer Jew nor Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28
Last week during the sermon, I asked everybody to change places and go sit by someone they didn't know. After finding out each other's names (a key first step!) the pairs spent a couple of minutes trying to find all the ways they were different from each other: gender, marital status, children or not, age, generation, ethnic background, favorite sport, education level, etc.
The room was abuzz. After people quieted down, I emphasized that we are bound together despite these countless differences. We are drawn into relationships with people who are different from us because we need each other. But for Christians, there's a more fundamental reason to reach across all sorts of aisles. Christ loves that other person as much as Christ loves you.
If we walk around humbly recalling that Christ died for all people - even those we find mean-spirited, opinionated in the wrong direction, profoundly sinful, or just plain annoying - we create relationships based not on outward identity, but on our identity as God's children.
To end, I asked people to turn to the conversation partner, make the sign of the cross on their foreheads and say: "Christ died for you."
The previous week I preached on forgiveness. Our resident poet-hound, Carol, finds a poem each week that goes along with the sermon. Here is the one on forgiveness. It helps if you know who Bill Buckner is. This is Carol's description:
"Buckner was a decent first baseman and a good hitter, but he is best known for an error he made playing for the Red Sox in a world series game. The ground ball went through his legs, the runner scored, the Red Sox lost the game and went on to lose the series. We all make errors, and we are all forgiven."
Forgiving Buckner John HodgenThe world is always rolling between our legs.
It comes for us, dribbler, slow roller,
humming its goat song, easy as pie.
We spit in our gloves, bend our stiff knees,
keep it in front of us, our fathers' advice,
but we miss it every time, its physic, its science,
and it bleeds on through, blue streak, heart sore,
to the four-leaf clovers deep in right field.
The runner scores, knight in white armor,
the others out leaping, bumptious, gladhanding,
your net come up empty, Jonah again.
Even the dance of the dead won't come near you,
heart in your throat, holy of holies,
the oh of your mouth as the stone rolls away,
as if it had come from before you were born
to roll past your life to the end of the world,
till the world comes around again, gathering steam,
heading right for us again and again,
faith of our fathers, world without end.