20 We are, therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
(2 Corinthians 5:20)
Sermon feedbacks are always interesting! They can encourage you, point out areas of improvement, raise questions, or just make you feel bad about a week's worth of work.
Last year, as I finished greeting some first-time guests, a well-intended member of my church approached me, saying he enjoyed the sermon, but he worried it was going to be a "political one."
The text for that Sunday was 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, where Paul is teaching disciples then and now that if we are in Christ, we are not only participants in the new Christ is making but also carriers of the message of reconciliation.
The point of the sermon that encouraged the feedback was that racial reconciliation is essential to the full proclamation of the gospel of Jesus. In my sermon, I argued that as ambassadors of Christ, we could not preach a message of complete reconciliation while living in willful separation. The news of reconciliation Christ entrusted us compels us to move beyond social normative and cultural expectations into a posture of active outreach to any person identified as "the other" in our community.
Curtiss Paul DeYoung, in his book Radical Reconciliation, insists that reconciliation is an exchanging of place with 'the other,' "overcoming alienation through identification, solidarity, restoring relationships, positive change, new framework, and rich togetherness that is both spiritual and political."
The ministry of reconciliation we have received from Christ moves us into restoring broken individual and communal relationships, even if broken to no fault of our own. This reconciliation is not only between the individual and God, but it is also a reconciliation of humanity with itself and, in the context of the United States, a reconciliation between white and black people!
Here in the Southwest District, under the leadership of our D.S. Susan Landry, we have started a movement of empowerment of clergy and lay persons to become agents of racial reconciliation. Our goal has been to provide a framework for Fear+Less Dialogues, clarify terminologies that cloud the conversation, and create opportunities to increase cultural awareness.
This effort is not an adoption of a political agenda, but it is a faithful witness of the gospel mandate to be reconciled with all people as an expression of the ministry of reconciliation of which we are Christ’s ambassadors.
I’m looking forward to our next session Saturday, August 8th,
between 9:30 – 2 pm. On that day, Rev. Brian Tillman, the Conference Director of Inclusion and Advocacy, will lead us in considering concrete steps as we lead our congregations and communities toward racial healing and reconciliation.
I invite you to make plans to attend this event and gain tools to become a better agent of reconciliation for the kingdom of God! I’m also looking forward to receiving your feedback!
Boesak, Allan. Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism. Orbis Books, 2004. p. 12