So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.Galatians 3:26-29
Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. How long, Lord God Almighty, will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have made them drink tears by the bowlful. Psalm 80:3-5
It has been a difficult few months.
My cousin Nate, a pastor in a church in rural Minnesota, recently took on two extra responsibilities back home: first, the funeral for my grandmother, and then, only 22 days later, the funeral for my grandfather. My wife says that it’s their own “Notebook” story. His broken heart could only wait 22 days to be made whole.
The words of the psalmist could not have been more appropriate at this time: “Restore us, Oh God! How long will we wait?” As Nate and I reflected on my grandmother’s legacy, we peered into a life full of joy, but also of sorrow. Memories of life on the farm and 68 years of marriage were joined by stories of her father, who was a loving parent, but who also locked himself in the chicken coop—his lips too dependent on a bottle that served to nurse away reality. Miscarriages led to stories that ended seemingly before they had the chance to start. Yet, through highs and lows, our grandmother chose joy.
In Christ Jesus, I’m a child of God through faith. By birth, I’m a grandchild of Don and Grace Huisman. God chose me and I responded to his call in the first, but I had no choice as to the second.
Grandma was direct. Be happy. Work hard. Marry a good Christian girl. And today’s text? It’s direct, too. You are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ—it’s not saying that we are clothing ourselves, for the action is done: we HAVE CLOTHED ourselves.
When we became children, we put on new clothes. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Again, it’s not an option, for just as I am a grandson of Don and Grace Huisman, so we are all one in Christ. Further, verse 29 says: If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Grandpa and Grandma were not wealthy in worldly things, but they were heirs, and right now, they’re claiming their rich inheritance because they were clothed with Christ. In heaven, they’re joining the rest of the family—meeting all kinds of brothers and sisters: American, Iraqi, slaves, free, white, black, republican, democrat, independent…and the best part is that they are all one in Christ.
In many of my favorite memories with Grandpa and Grandma, our family was sitting around their table. She was a meat-and-potatoes-chocolate-cake-with-seven-minute-frosting kind of cook. Delicious. You should have seen our table at Thanksgiving. One long table filled with turkey, piles of mashed potatoes, vegetables, relish trays, Grandma’s special punch. Seating was limited, but there was always room for everyone at her table.
We’re Christ’s family; each one a member. Each one gifted by God to be like God. Each one invited to the table.
There is no fear around the table with relatives. Not politics. Not the color of our skin. Not our intelligence, athleticism, or musical ability. Not the depth of our theology beyond accepting the grace of Jesus which binds us to God as members of the covenant promise…a seat around the table.
As you gather around the table this holiday season, remember that through baptism, we all belong to Christ, and we are all heirs according to the promise.