Diversity In Christ

Saturday, January 14, 2023
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Galatians 3:28 – There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (NRSV)

During my time working in New York City, USA, I would regularly attend midday prayer at St. Thomas Church. Its Anglo-Catholic style is very high church even by Episcopal Church standards. The priests faced the altar when performing the eucharist. Evensong was sung three evenings a week. The altar would be blessed with incense — "all the smells and bells" as a colleague at work once described it. Initially, all of this was a bit off-putting for one raised as a staunch Presbyterian with a good dose of Dutch Reformed Church lurking in the background. However, over time, I learned not only to tolerate the ritual, but to realize that it could be a guidepost to a fuller worship experience. Besides, the Episcopal Church was the only alternative for weekday Protestant worship in midtown Manhattan. All the other Protestant denominations closed their doors, often literally, during the week.

As I settled into the routine of midday prayer at St. Thomas, I became more and more conscious of the variety of those worshipping. There were all types of people: Asian, Latino, African, Afro-American, etc., as well as the archetypical white Anglo-Saxon. Overalled janitors knelt next to pinstriped tax attorneys to partake of the common cup at the altar rail. It was a perfect picture of modern-day diversity that would have warmed the heart of any human resources manager. Yet, during my whole time at St. Thomas, I do not remember the rector or any of the other priests ever using the word "diversity", much less dwelling on the topic. Instead, their singular focus was, as they said, "to vigorously preach Jesus Christ without stammering".

We live in a world that increasingly and shrilly insists on dividing us by race, gender, economic status, historical grievances, and religion — all supposedly in the name of celebrating our differences but, in fact, serving to divide us and, all too often, to set us at each other's throats, figuratively, if not literally.

As Christians, rather than focusing on what separates us from one another — race, gender, economic status, pedigree, degree of victimhood — may our sole emphasis be on the faith that unites us all and allows us to truly call one another brother and sister.

Prayer: Father God, grant us the wisdom and courage to reject calls for division, however artfully they may disguised, and to boldly proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ as the one thing that trumps all else and truly unites us as a single people in Christ. Amen.

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About the author:

David Gellatly <dlgellatly3@gmail.com>
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen.


    Amen, David.


    Amen! Well stated. Thank you.


    Interesting perspective, thank you!


    Excellent! Much needed word in today’s world.


    A message that resonates in our ever-fracturing world.


    Thank you, David for your vision and discernment of things that divide.


    Do not despair, God promises that he will not leave you. Trust and believe.


    Awesome … thank you. Amen.
    (N S, Canada)


    Thank you. Very true. We are so tired of it.
    Blessings to you.


    Thank you, David. What a great picture of Christ’s people worshipping together.


    David: Thank you for your message today. It is good advice! Blessings to you and yours.


    Your message today hits the nail on the head! Thank you for clearly defining the problem and the solution.


    Thank you for these wise words. We are being divided up here in Canada as well. We must concentrate on following the word of the Lord.


    Thank you for this beautiful message. We are one in Jesus Christ, Saviour and Lord of all peoples. Let us emphasize this and not our differences.


    How beautiful! I have always dreamed of a world where differences are irrelevant, and you have shown me that it is actually available and will be in the end. Thank you.


    Your message brings to mind the message from Malachi 2:10a. “Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God?”
    Blessings to you and yours.


    Thank you, David, for you devotion today.
    I liked your writing.
    Keep up your faith, it shows in your devotion.
    (Quebec)


    David, you’ve made excellent points about the value and necessity of true unity, and expressed your points very well. Thank you for giving us a new way to look at this issue. I loved the “smells and bells” description!


    Thanks, David, for your mindful words in this devotional. Yes, it is important that we focus on our faith and remember that we were each created individually rather than focus on the differences of others. Blessings for writing.


    Thank you for your message.
    We pray that the words and example that Jesus gave us will touch more and more people in this very troubled world.
    Blessings.


    Good Morning:
    I was challenged and blessed by your devotion this morning.
    In another devotion, also this morning, the topic was the unity found in the Lord’s Table.
    May the Lord bless and encourage you.
    (ON)


    Good morning, David,
    A great message about uniting Christians and encouraging us to focus on what unites us and not what divides us. Jesus spoke with everyone, helped everyone, shared food with everyone and loved us all.
    Thank you for sharing your experience and how it shapes your faith. Blessings.


    Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts, and I can appreciate your background as I grew up in the RCA and have been a part of the Presbyterian Church USA for over 30 years. Some of the division in the RCA is interesting, but I am not involved although my home church and churches I’ve served are. How we need to learn more about unity in Christ and have more love and compassion.


    Dear David,
    I loved your point about another worship tradition being a “guidepost to a fuller worship experience.”
    You’ve made an excellent point about the necessity — especially in our politically-divided world — of being unified as brothers and sisters in Christ.
    Well done, brother!


    David,
    As one who feels literally ripped up over the unnecessary divisiveness and division concerning marriage and ordination, I found your article on diversity in Christ to be very encouraging, particularly the sharing of your experiences at St. Thomas church in NYC. Woe on us in any congregation or denomination if we should ever allow anything to supplant the reality of our unity in Christ Jesus.
    Thanks.


    Love it!
    A chorus in my PCC hymn book 1997 starts:
    We are one in the spirit
    we are One in the Lord x2
    And we pray that all unity
    will one day be restored
    And they’ll know we are Christians
    By our love, by our love
    And they’ll know we are Christians
    By our love.
    Sad that divisions continue!
    Bless you for this plea for unity!
    (BC Canada)


    Beautiful picture of the Almighty’s Kingdom to come David. Blessings.


    You succeeded in saying what I’ve been feeling for a very long time!
    Labels are for sorting things into separate boxes. The sooner we do away with the labels and just think of humanity as one group, the better. Yes, certain groups may need extra help in some way, but other groups need it in another. None of us are lacking the same things. Just focus on helping each individual as their needs arise!


    Amen! Thanks for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.

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