“I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”
My dad served a Lutheran church in downtown Akron, Ohio. It was a beautiful building amid a changing neighborhood. Many of the members moved to the suburbs and just came back for worship on Sundays. The neighborhood’s demographics changed from what was remembered in the bygone days of the 1920s when the sanctuary was first built.
In the first year of my dad’s time in Akron, he made great inroads into the community. The church revitalized her midweek program and invited the “new” neighbors. It was an awesome moment for a predominantly white congregation to be reaching out to those who didn’t look like them. One time, at a large kids’ choir event which included singers from the neighborhood, a child new to the church exclaimed, “I didn’t know I could come here. I thought this church was for white people only.” To that, my dad responded, “Of course you are welcomed here!”
A church is a place for people of all backgrounds to encounter the love of Jesus.
For the longest time, the Messiah was exclusively a thing for the Israelites. They were the chosen people of God. All the promises made to Abraham were just for his descendants. The men were circumcised to prove that they were to be the exclusive beneficiaries. But Paul points out in the verse above that now the time has come when the promises are not for the “[Israelite] people only.”
Heavenly Father, thank you for making Christmas about your promises of Jesus for all people, even me. Amen.
Contributed by Rev. Andrew Bartholomew