I’ve been reading Letters To a Birmingham Jail by a number of Christian leaders. It’s a current response to what is going on in our culture right now as the right and the left are polarized on everything from SCOTUS choices to whether you drive a Ford or a Chevy. I wonder if my morning choice of cereal has some sort of political implication.
One chapter that captured me was by Albert Tate entitled, “The Multicultural Church Begins in your Livingroom.” Tate, an African American, was hired to be on the Pastoral staff of Lake Avenue Church, a huge very white Californian church. At times, Tate experienced the hatred of racism, but the senior pastor always had his back.
Tate goes on to describe how Jesus went out of his way to eat with people who were different and despised. He went through Samaria, ate with sinners, tax collectors and Pharisees.
I realize how easy it is for me to have people like me around my table. It’s uncomfortable to invite people who are, well, just different. But I want to be like Jesus who said, “I need to go through Samaria.” I must also be deliberate in who I seek out to get to know, even if it takes me out of my way.
This comes home to me most powerfully in my concern for the poor. I’ve spent most of my adult life working among single and marginalized poor women in the informal settlements around Nairobi, Kenya. They can be a feisty lot – determined to see that their children get food and an education. Abject poverty does not hold them back.
I wonder if it’s possible that the real divide in our society right now is more than black and white, Republican and Democrat, left or right. Could it instead be a great economic divide between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots. Can I dare to say that a person of a different color, ethnicity or religion might be easier to have around your dining room table, if they also live in your neighborhood, in a similar house to yours, and even have a better paying job?
I am grateful for our pastor, Garrett Spitz, who preached this morning (October 4) from the book of Amos, chapters 3 – 6, which was a brave thing to do in our fractured times. His attention to the balance between the gospel and social action – holding us accountable to a biblical perspective of gospel-righteousness and social justice. It was a reminder that in being gospel people, we are also called to love and include the poor, the disenfranchised and the marginalized.
So who should I invite to dinner?
Here you can read perspectives on life, ministry and God's Word from a variety of PCC's female leaders.