Kevin Makins, pastor of Eucharist Church in Hamilton, recently completed a four part series of sermons at Hope Fellowship. His final sermon left us with a challenge, one that bears repeating. Kevin challenged us to remain unified, not uniform, taking his example from the Trinity – God the Creator, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God is one, and God is three. In something called the “Divine Dance” each part of God submits, serves and points to the others, in a unity that is not uniform.
In the Old Testament, the people decide to get together and build a tower, so that they can overthrow God. God scatters them through language, confusing them so they can no longer communicate. In the New Testament, he brings people together at Pentecost, when each person heard about Jesus in their own language. He takes a unity of violence and turns it into a unity of love.
How does this apply to us in a world and a time where we are afraid of “others” – who think, acts or speaks differently than we do? God tells us that he desires a unity that is not uniformity – something designed on the assembly line. The Trinity invites us, in spite of our differences, to join in the Divine Dance around the communion table, to point to the other as greater than ourselves, to submit to and serve each other and not insist on our own rights.
II Corinthians 13 references the Trinity when Paul says “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”. He encourages us to live in peace together. The reformation, while important, has birthed a tolerance to splits in our church – when we have an issue, the church splits, then there’s another issue and another issue till finally we are left standing alone. In the end division kills! Instead of allowing our differences to divide us, the Trinity invites us to be united despite our differences, and says that we can be united around the table.
Hope Fellowship is without a pastor right now, which means that what we have is each other (Kevin challenged us to look at the people around us), with our differences. Jesus doesn’t want us to be uniform, a church built in a factory, with clone-like products. He wants a church that is aware of how radically different it is and yet continues to do the hard work of listening, submitting and serving one another.
In the wonderful, backwards, upside down way of Christianity, the cross is a sign of unity. In Roman times the cross was the sign of unity and a reminder to the world that Caesar brought together many different countries and cultures. If you didn’t join, you were crucified. But our King Jesus brought even more people and nations together, using the cross as a sign of unity. He took a symbol of fear and power and turned it around. Not through violence, not by enforcing his agenda, not through uniformity, but by taking the sin of the world on his own body, when he died on the cross. Jesus invites, without violence or coercion, all creation to be reconciled together in full unity. It is the unity of the church that is the sign that Christ Jesus is King. So when you insult other Christians, when you demean other traditions, when you gossip, you are taking Christ’s crown of unity and chipping away at it. And so we need to repent for every time we have done that. We need to remember and proclaim that we are part of God’s united family and commit ourselves again to the family reunion.
You can listen to the entire sermon (well worth the half hour, even if you’ve heard it already) at hopefellowship.ca. This sermon was preached on Nov. 30.