This sermon was taken from the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Resource Pack for Racial Justice Sunday, and our thanks go to all of the individuals and churches who collaborated on this fantastic resource.
We are all one in Christ, or are we? (Ephesians 2:19-22)
Revd Mandy Ralph, Minister, Church of Scotland
In life, if we are honest with ourselves, we know all too well, that there are insiders and outsiders. The welcome mat is dusted off and laid out for some and not for others. Some people are accepted, others are rejected. If you know and experience acceptance, it is a nice and secure feeling. On the other hand, maybe you have experienced rejection and exclusion, and it’s not so nice; it’s frustrating, disheartening, disillusioning and hurtful. In some of the rural villages I have ministered in, even after 30, 40 years, unless you were born there you are still referred to as an incomer, – ‘Aye see these interloupers!’
But how does that feel when you are excluded, an outsider because of the colour of your skin, because you look different? We read in Ephesians of how we are all one in Christ. Interesting concept or a reality, or non-existent when it comes to our church communities? As you reflect on the passage from Ephesians and how God’s word speaks to you, maybe you are thinking, what significance does it have on Racial Justice Sunday? You may also be thinking, what does Racial Justice Sunday have to do with me? The answer is everything. For it is about acceptance before God and acceptance of one another.
Within Christian communities you often hear the phrase: ‘We are all one in Christ’. By faith we are assured of this as we are all part of the body of Christ. Jesus walked among us and knows us only too well; our complexities and our frailties. Therefore, let’s not kid ourselves that we can use the phrase to our own ends; when we use it to paper over uncomfortable discussions or to prove we are right in our stance or as a line of defence. Sometimes when we use that phrase what we are actually doing is closing down the conversation, especially when it comes to inequality and racial injustice. ‘We are all one in Christ – so we don’t need to address this.’ But the person on the receiving end is still excluded, for their voice has not been heard, in fact it has been silenced.
Jesus walked and shared by example; we are tasked to do the same, to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, to go in faith in what unites not what divides. So, when we say, ‘What does Racial Justice Sunday have to do with us?’ – Everything! It’s up to us as Christian communities to set a good example, to walk the talk, putting our faith into action in fighting racial injustice, and God wants that from all of us, not just a select few. For we are all made in the image of God, yet we are all also unique.
In Scotland we have a great saying – ‘Wur aw Jock Tamson’s Bairns’. In faith ‘Wur aw God’s bairns’ – children of God. For loved the same by God. So, let’s treat each other equally and respectfully, understanding that as Christians we all have a role to play regardless of the colour of our skin in addressing racial injustice, both in our congregations and communities.
Find more about Racial Justice Sunday, here.