Friday, June 24, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Aware

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Five Minute Friday :: Aware Linkup

Every one of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; because all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:27-28

Lightly edited for around five minutes from observations I made about three years ago.

Neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free, because Jesus Christ has gathered and unified us all. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. But this doesn't obliterate distinctions and wonders of each one's gifts and contributions. It doesn't at all mean it's not very good and necessary for us to be very aware of differences.

The community at Galatia was the first ethnic church, not in the sense of Jewish–gentile ethnicity, but of geography and culture. But as gentiles, they also were ethnos! Despite populations being relatively small, communication not as swift as it is in these days of widespread internet reach, everyone was highly aware of their own identities and therefore cautious about including anyone different from them. Scripture helps us become aware of Jesus' examples and instructions to us in the four gospels; the Acts of the Apostles provides an excellent overview of ways to include differences.

Every church body in this country began as an immigrant church—among them were non-English speaking Lutheran and Reformed along with very English-speaking Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregational. American Christianity has come full-circle with substantial numbers whose first language wasn't English, and quite a few who still may not know much English. In addition to protestant churches, the Roman Catholic presence in this country began with immigrants. As people from Poland, Germany, Ireland, and Italy filled midwestern and northeastern cities, most newcomers tried to do everything like in the old country. After all, "That's what they knew" and no one can survive too many changes at once.

"Woke" has become a buzzword for ultra-awareness of our surroundings and of general cultural trends, though it's impossible not to notice someone who speaks English with a marked accent, to be unaware of a family arrayed in colorfully hand-blocked African fabric. But what demands do we make of newcomers?

Do we insist they start to look like us, talk like us, love our favorite foods, because that's what we know and it's worked well for us? Like an anthropologist doing field work, conversing and interacting with others helps us become more aware of our own biases and preferences.

People who first settled in other parts of the USA brought everything with them to California—hot dish casseroles and nativity observances; they also built churches with steeply pitched roofs. Most ethnic food is grounded in what grew well in the old country and then in the plains of the new country. Architecture happens because of locally available materials and weather patterns. Snow isn't a current concern in southern California, but that's what they knew! More recently, church buildings for those one-time ethnic Presbyterian, Lutheran, Wesleyan, and Catholic Christians have followed west coast mid-twentieth century and later trends. That's what they've learned from experience, so it's become what they know now.

We need to be aware of gifts Asian and Latiné, African, and Caribbean traditions bring to our churches and into our wider neighborhoods. As the Reformers insisted, wherever you find Word and Sacrament you find the church. No Word and Sacrament? No church. No requirement for everyone to look, act, talk, think, feel, and lunch the same as everyone else. But I'll add Jesus does want his followers to be aware of differences so we can welcome and celebrate those who are different from us.

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  1. I had never thought of editing an old post for FMF...brilliant!

    I love what you said about the BIG C church vs little c church.

    FMF # 17

    1. Thanks! And this year's version is much better in every way!

  2. I appreciate the history you included in your post and the reminder that we are one in Christ; cultural differences are to be celebrated, not devalued. Visiting from FMF.

  3. Interesting history and great reminder that we are one in Christ.

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thanks for visiting—peace and joy to all of us!