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A Step into Reconciliation (July 31, 2016)

10 Aug

This sermon can be viewed at: https://www.facebook.com/lcm.lakewood/

Colossians 3:1-11

But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have . . . clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in . . . the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

Living in Christ we are being transformed, renewed. We are being changed out of malice and slander, and abusive language. Instead, we are being clothed in the new, in Christ. We are being transformed into his image.

So, of course there is no longer Greek and Jew, slave and free. There is no longer Democrat or Republican. There is no longer police and African American. There is only Christ and the new life we are being brought into. And we are the people God has called and equipped to show the world what that looks like.

In Christ, we are no longer dividers, but uniters.

In Christ, we no longer bring disparity, but unity.

In Christ, we no longer act according to our human differences, but according to Christ alive in the other.

It seems that our nation needs reconciliation now more than ever. We need unity as we move forward. We need to recognize Christ, present in love and compassion and understanding, in those who are different than we are.

Today is the day to begin bringing reconciliation. Because we’re the ones who acknowledge reconciliation through Christ. Since we are united in Christ, we bring reconciliation and togetherness to our world in him. It has to be us. No one else is nearly so equipped for this work.

With the urging of our Worship Planning Ministry, I had a few conversations in preparation for worship today. Half were with Officer Steve Davis from the Public Information Office of the Lakewood Police Department. The other half were with Rev. Frank Davis, pastor of Zion Baptist Church near Five Points in Denver, the oldest historically African American congregation in the Rocky Mountain area—chartered in 1865.

In each set of conversations we talked about divisiveness. We talked about anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language. And we talked about reconciliation. I asked how we can facilitate some means of reconciliation and support for both the police and our African American brothers and sisters.

And I listened as each told me about the heartache, the sadness, the misunderstanding, the undeserved anger, the divisions they experience. These were emotional conversations that went to the heart of divisiveness. I was moved when Officer Steve Davis asked if we would pray for the police department—not just today, but ongoing. Pray for guidance, for wisdom, and for good judgment. And I was moved when Rev. Frank Davis grabbed my hands prayed for us and our ministry of reconciliation.

And based on those conversations, and with their endorsements, we have the opportunity commit to acts of reconciliation and encouragement. Recognizing that in Christ there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free. But in Christ we are all made new.

There are two letters in the back of the worship area. One is addressed to the Lakewood Police. The other to Zion Baptist. You are encouraged  to read and to sign each one if you choose to do so.

The letter to the police department is a letter of encouragement and support. Recognizing the dangers and the difficulties of their job each day, it is a letter of gratitude. By signing it, however, we would also be committing to holding the Lakewood Police Department regularly in prayer in an ongoing way. That is our act of unity in Christ: affirming those who sometimes feel unappreciated, or even targeted, as they serve us all with wisdom and good judgement.

The other letter to Zion is a letter of acknowledgment. Openly acknowledging that in our country there is a history of racial disparity, from which our African American brothers and sisters have suffered. Acknowledging that the differences between racial groups have been used to divide us. And again, our African American brothers and sisters have suffered more as a result. By signing this letter, however, we are committing ourselves to seek to establish a relationship with someone who is different than us, to help us understand, love, and be part of God’s reconciling work. As for me, I plan to get to know the Imam at the RMIC here in Lakewood.

As Rev. Davis and I talked in his office at Zion, he said that the fabric of our country is torn & can only be mended by love. Love happens in relationships. But because we’re afraid of those who are different, we avoid it. Reconciliation is grounded in love. That’s how it happens. By signing this letter to Zion, we commit to that work of reconciliation through a relationship with someone different in some way. Perhaps a different race or religion, a different sexual identity, a different political party, a different set of physical abilities, or a different language. But we, who trust we are transformed in Christ, we are the ones who must lead this movement of reconciliation in a divided country. As Rev. Davis says, “the answer isn’t in the White House, it’s not in the State House. It’s in the Church House.”

Today, we support others in Jesus’ name. Today, we walk with others in Jesus’ name. Today, we bring a little more unity into our world in Jesus’ name.

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Posted by on August 10, 2016 in Sermon

 

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