Big Enough for All sermon

Posted By 
Sun, 01/05/2020 - 3:15pm

READING from Ephesians 3:1-12
3:1 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles--

3:2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God's grace that was given me for you,

3:3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,

3:4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.

3:5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:

3:6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

3:7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God's grace that was given me by the working of his power.

3:8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ,

3:9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;

3:10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

3:11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,

3:12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

“Big Enough for All” sermon for: 01-05-20 Epiphany Sunday

The 2020 Census begins this month. We are all required by law to participate in it. The 2020 count will be the first one to allow all U.S. households to respond online. Paper forms will still be available through the mail., and, for the first time, you can call 1-800 numbers to give responses over the phone. Census workers will hired to make home visits to extremely remote areas, like rural Alaska, parts of northern Maine, Native American Reservations, Block Island.

There are a lot of background questions about Race, Ethnicity and Origins 

a.. Do I speak Spanish?

b.. What race best describes me?

c.. Am I white, African American, Chinese, Korean, Hispanic?

d.. What is my heritage? Irish, German, Italian?

This info is supposed to be useful to our Federal Government as they learn a little bit more about the people that makeup this great nation. But you know what? none of these question are of any concern to our God....That’s right. and This is what Paul is reminding us in our reading today. It. You see our world wants to classify you. It wants you to check a box so that it can put you in a box … to put you in a particular race, income level....It wants to label you...white, black, middle class, upper class, male, with a college education, etc... And then do you know what they do after they label you? THEY DISQUALIFY YOU. Paul is saying here, that it doesn't matter if you were born in the Mediterranean or in Mechanicsburg. It doesn't matter which box you check on your census packet. God has a new body where those questions do not matter! IT'S CALLED HIS CHURCH. It doesn't matter if you check male or female. It doesn't matter which box you check for your highest education. It doesn't matter if you own your home or rent.....God's mystery is revealed- and that means that the good news is for EVERYBODY .

It makes no difference if your background is Jewish or Gentile... what is a gentile, anyway?

Gentiles Greek word “Ethnos” same root from which Ethnic is derived. signifies “the nations” or “foreigners” as opposed to the people of Israel. From this point of view, the human race is divided into two groups: Jews and Gentiles. Everybody! Every “Other” Person in the world. In the words of Revelation: “People from every tribe and language and race and nation” – do you ever wonder why God created all this diversity? Wouldn’t it have been simpler to make us all the same? One worldwide ethnicity? It might have avoided a lot of hatred based on our differences. No genocides, no ethnic cleansings. No racism. No nationalism. Perhaps. But human nature being what it is, with our fallen natures and propensity to sin, we probably would have just found a lot of others reasons for hatred instead.

The Best Robot Story. XT-27 wasn't just any robot. His identification plate read "XT-27: The best, most modern robot". He was, indeed, the most up-to-date robot currently available, a product difficult to beat. Of course, this made him feel very proud. So much so, that when he saw other robots in the street, he would look at them with a certain air of superiority; he reserved his enthusiastic greetings for other XT-27s.

"All robots should be like us XT-27s", he thought to himself. He was convinced that no new robot would be able to improve on the XT-27 model, and that the world would be a much better place if all robots were like himself.

One day, he was walking along in Bionic City, he found a a big yellow door that led to somewhere he had never been before.

He had no idea where the door had come from. Intrigued, he pulled it open and went through the doorway. The door led to a fantastic city. All the city's inhabitants were XT-27s, and everything he saw there was mindblowing!

Excited at having found his perfect city, he set to exploring the whole place, stopping from time to time to talk to people, telling them what a great thing it was to be an XT-27.. The days passed, but he suddenly realised that there was something about that city that he didn't like. As all the robots were XT-27s, it meant that no one had any reason to feel special about themselves, because everyone was the same. if truth be told, he found that with the passing of time not even he felt special any more.

On top of that, things became very boring. Everyone could do things equally well, which made it impossible for anyone to stand out from the crowd. Whenever he did anything which he thought brilliant, it turned out that the other robots had done exactly the same thing and at the same time.

So XT-27 started to miss those varied little robots in his previous world. Each one had had its good and bad points, but that made them different and fun. He realised that he would much prefer to meet a clumsy-but-fun TP-4, and spend a while chatting with it, than see yet another XT-27.

So he started searching for that big yellow door. It took him several days to find it, but finally he did. Just like before, it was standing in the middle of a normal street. He put his hand on the door and looked behind him, as if saying farewell to the city that had at first seemed so perfect. Then, he gave the door a joyful push and returned to its imperfect world, where he was happier because everyone was different and every one was special...

We live in a marvelously diverse world all the more beautiful for its complexity. Perhaps God created us with all our differences to celebrate our uniqueness, and also to provide us with an opportunity to come together in a greater unity than we could otherwise experience. To achieve this unity requires us to first recognize the beauty of another person, and to accept their different-ness by realizing that we are all equally valued and loved by God. By realizing that none of us is better than, but that we are all different than one another…

A lot has been made of the special status of the Jewish people in the Bible. And there is no question that the Lord set them apart in a special way. They are called the chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation. But what was so special about them to God was not their ethnicity or origins, but their relationship with God, and the mission, and purpose that the Lord entrusted to them. That purpose being to demonstrate his faithfulness to his promises to love them and provide for them (as an example) AND to reach all the other people of the other with those same promises of love and faithfulness. And we, as the church of Jesus Christ, and followers of the Jewish carpenter from Galilee, are the spiritual descendants of these people, and the inheritors of these same promises.

There is another word in the Greek language related to the word for Gentiles, or ethnos It is ethnikos which can be translated as the Heathens. People No with knowledge of or fear of God in their lives. Taken together we see a description of everyone, all people anywhere and everywhere that don’t know about God, that don’t seek after the Lord. These are the people that the apostle Paul said matter to the church in a special way”

In our reading, Paul speaks of these promises as a mystery that has been revealed to all. He says,

this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; …

3:6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

This is the special trust that we have been given as a church. To reach out to all people, no matter how different they are, with the promise of a life-giving Relationship with God through Jesus Christ.. This is one of the greatest joys of the Christian life: to share the goodness and love and acceptance that we have discovered in God with others. The prophet Isaiah knew this. He said: “All Nations, all people shall come to your light, … Then you shall see this and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice

It’s Epiphany Sunday, and that’s what we celebrate today. The light that the Magi followed from that star in the East led them to the Christ child and the promise that he held for all people. These wise men weren’t Jewish; they were foreigners from a different land. They were probably early astronomers or philosophers from a different race, a different religion, a different culture, and a different place. They weren’t three white wise guys. Maybe they were Arabic or Asian. Maybe one of them was gay, maybe one of them was a woman. What we do know is that they were different. I think in the wisdom of God they were included in the Christmas story for just this reason.

As we move into a new season of ministry as a church, let’s remember the joy that can be ours when we share the good new of Jesus with others. And lets especially look for opportunities to share the love of God with folks that are different than us.

in Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches Francis Wayland, a former President of Brown University in the mid 19th century wrote these words:

 What is there then to unite us? I answer, love to Christ and adherence to principle. When these fail, we shall sink with them. Destitute of these, we ought to sink.

Taking a periodic census makes sense to governments, but not to God’s people. For in the eyes of God, no one is better than anyone else. No one gets categorized, labeled, or put in a box. No, in the church of Jesus Christ, what we all are is equally valued, perfectly loved, and wonderfully different, amen.