Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 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. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
~ Galatians 3:23-29 (NRSV)
When you came in this morning, you should have each received a crayon with your bulletin. If for some reason you didn’t, you can just share with the person next to you. I want you to take a look at that crayon and think of all of the things that you could draw with it.
Okay, who ended up with a red crayon? What are one or two things that you could draw? Maybe a heart, or an apple? And how about the orange crayons? Any ideas? Maybe a basketball, or a pumpkin? And yellow? A lemon, or a smiley face? Green? A leaf or some asparagus? Blue? A blue jay, or some blueberries? Purple? A violet or some grapes? Brown? Some chocolate or a bunny?
I know, right about now some of you are probably thinking, “What does all of this have to do with our Scripture reading today?” Well, actually it has a lot to do with today’s Scripture. I know that Paul did not talk to the early churches about crayons or colors, but he did talk to them about the about being children of God. And the truth is, my friends, we are all children of God. And by “we,” I don’t mean just people who are members of this church or just people who are sitting here in worship today. There are children of God inside and outside of our walls. There are children of God worshipping in different kinds of churches, and synagogues, and temples, and lots and lots who are not worshipping at all. The truth is, each and every person on this earth is a child of God, created by the Creator. It doesn’t matter what we look like, or how tall we are, or what our name is. It doesn’t matter if we have blue eyes, or brown eyes, or green eyes. It doesn’t matter if we have light skin, or dark skin, or “somewhere in-between” skin. It doesn’t matter if we come from a big family or a small family, if we have brothers and sisters, or we are only children. It doesn’t matter where we work, or who we love, or how much money we have. It doesn’t matter if we have brown hair, or blonde hair, or red hair, or white hair, or even if we are bald. We are all children of God!
The book of psalms tells us that we are all uniquely and wonderfully made. That means that God doesn’t use a cookie cutter, making us all exactly the same. No! We are all made wonderfully different from one another!
I wonder, does anyone remember the story of Abraham and Sarah? Well as the story goes, Abraham and Sarah wanted to have a baby even though they were every old. Well, one night, Abraham looked up in the sky, and what do you think he saw? STARS! He saw stars! And God promised Abraham that night that Abraham’s family—his descendants—would include as many people as there were stars in the sky or grains of sand on the beach! That is a lot! And then God said that the world would be blessed through them.
Friends, do you realize that the Abrahamic Faiths that came from the decedents of Abraham include Judaism, Islam and Christianity. That is a lot of different people, from lots of different places, with lots of different understandings, all of whom are beloved children of God.
As human beings, we all search to find places to belong. We like to find places where we are welcomed as we are and appreciated for the gifts that we have. Most of us here have found a home in the Christian Church. We find that we are not only comforted, but we are also challenged by Jesus teachings. And as Christians—but even more so as human beings—we long for a safe place where we can ask questions and wonder, a place where we can get involved in common activities but also where we can take the time and the space we need to figure things out.
Friends, belonging to a church does not mean finding a community where everyone looks and thinks the same. On the contrary, it’s understanding that we are all created wonderfully different. But the good news is, when we come together, we can share our individual thoughts and gifts and ideas, and we can share fellowship and enjoy being together while we learn from our differences. After all, as today’s scripture said, “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. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.”
Friends, being a part of the church is about finding a sense of community and being in a place that offers extravagant hospitality and a warm welcome to ALL!! It’s not about being divided by our differences, but rather embracing our distinctions and our similarities, and sharing the unique gifts that each of us holds.
Earlier today, you were each given a crayon, and we learned that each of those crayons is perfect for drawing certain pictures. Remember, the orange was good for drawing a basketball, and the yellow for drawing a rubber duck? But what if we wanted to draw a picture of a garden? We would need to work together, right? Because we might need to use someone’s brown crayon for the dirt, and someone else’s green crayon for the leaves and the vines. Maybe someone’s red crayon for the tomatoes, somebody else’s orange crayon for the carrots. Perhaps we need someone’s purple crayon for the beets, and a blue crayon for the water that comes out of the water can, and yellow for the big bright sun that helps the garden grow. That wouldn’t be a project that we could do alone with just one crayon, would it?
As Paul was teaching the early church—and as we still learn today—though we may have a personal faith in Jesus, it takes a communal experience in the church, worshipping and praying and singing and talking and wondering and working together, to truly experience the love of God in and through community. And it takes all of our wonderfully different gifts to add strength and depth and beauty.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy week ahead, take some time to think about the gifts and passions that you hold within you. What makes you wonderfully different? What do you love to do? What talents and skills do you have? And how can you share them to make this church and the world a better place? After all, the peaceable kingdom is not something that will come on its own, but when we work together, there is no end to the possibilities! Friends, may you always know that you are a beloved child of God and you are wonderfully different, because that’s what makes you, you! So, go out into the world, sharing a piece of who you are, knowing that you are loved, just the way you are!
May it be so, thanks be to God! Amen!!