Scripture Reading: Galatians 3:27-28: For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Our church, Milledge Avenue Baptist Church, in Athens, Georgia, participated in a combined worship service with Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, also in Athens. Mt. Pleasant is an African- American Baptist Church and their pastor invited us to join together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, in worship at their church. And what a wonderful and uplifting service it was. I had the opportunity to reunite with some dear friends that I had not seen in a while and also to meet many other folks for the first time.
Our pastor, Edward Bolen, preached on the text from Luke about the Good Samaritan. He challenged all of us to wrestle within ourselves on how we should extend mercy and love towards our neighbors. Pastor Bolen used a phrase from one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Ebenezer sermons, “What’s mine is thine.” In other words, whatever gifts or resources we have been given from God – belongs to God. And in turn, God wants us to have this attitude towards our neighbors. Jesus gives us the image of a neighbor, as one who has mercy on his fellow man, regardless of color, nationality, or religion.
Paul, in our scripture reading for today, is also saying that if you are baptized into Christ, then you are one in Christ Jesus. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, black or white, Jew or Gentile, man or woman. If you belong to Christ, then you are part of a family of believers from many different backgrounds. Christ is what unites us as neighbors and as believers.
Our family came away from this beautiful service today with a true blessing. Spending time with our brothers and sisters in Christ from Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church was something that made this day very special. We all have more in common that we realize and we must continue to get to know each other better and work together as followers of Christ. And we also must strive to be good neighbors to those in our community that need our attention. May God continue to speak to our church leaders and draw these two congregations even closer together as we go about the work of the Kingdom of God, here in Athens, Georgia.