I’m always amazed when I catch a snowflake and look closely at its unique beauty. It is absolutely amazing to me to think that no two snowflakes are alike. In all time and throughout all the universe, whenever and wherever a snowflake of crystallized H2O can exist, no two snowflakes are exactly alike.
This is amazing to me, and it says a lot about who God is. God is the Cause of all causes and is infinitely creative. God loves diversity and the beauty of infinite variations. God also loves unity in diversity and the beauty of equilibrium within God’s infinite creative activity.
The Season of Epiphany (after Christmastime and before Lent) is all about God’s all-inclusive, all-pervading and all-encompassing nature. On the Day of Epiphany (every January 6th) many churches begin the Season of Epiphany with the story of the Three Magi (a.k.a. the Three Wise Men).
The story of the Three Magi is a biblical story that communicates the inclusive gospel of Christ. This is because the Three Magi in this story are Gentiles (meaning non-Jews). Also, the word “magi” is from the New Testament Greek word “magoi” meaning “magicians.” Furthermore, these three magician-astrologers from the East would no doubt have been Zoroastrian (a non-Judeo-Christian religion). Consequently, this biblical story about three, foreign, Zoroastrian astrologers conveys the good news that God is all-inclusive, all-pervading and all-encompassing — that the Eternal God is truly the One God of all peoples, cultures, spiritualities, and so on.
Isaiah 56: 6-7
And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD,
and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath, and do not profane it,
and hold fast my covenant —
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.
Epiphany (meaning “revelation”) reveals and declares this universal truth. It is absolutely true that God’s grace is all-pervading. It is absolutely true that God’s love is all-encompassing. It is absolutely true that the universal music of God resonates within and through all that is, both seen and unseen.
ALL that is — coming and going, rising and falling, giving and taking — moves according to God’s good pleasure. ALL THAT IS moves according to God’s all-inclusive plan. My brothers and sisters of destiny, God holds all of us in his hands according to his purpose, accomplishing all things by his supreme counsel and will.
Ephesians 1: 8b-12
With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.
And as the biblical story of the three, Gentile, Zoroastrian astrologers reminds us, the universal reign of God is most certainly true for all people: Hebrew or Gentile, male or female, Jewish or Christian, Hindu or Muslim, gay or straight, Republican or Democrat.
The inclusive and reconciling house of God “shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7). So true believers (both Christian believers and non-Christian believers) are claimed and destined by God’s grace to live, declare and embody this universal grace and truth of God. Muslim true believers are ministers of God’s reconciliation in their unique, God-given, Muslim way. Hindu true believers do this in their unique, God-given, Hindu way. And so on.
Specifically for us Christian believers — male or female, homosexual or heterosexual, Tanzanian or American, Democrat or Republican, military or civilian, public sector or private sector — we are claimed and destined by God’s grace in Christ Jesus to be ministers of God’s unity in diversity (i.e., ministers of reconciliation) in our unique, God-given, Christian way.
Second Corinthians 5: 16-19
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
In fact, as a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregation, we observe an annual RIC Sunday just as we observe other special Sundays (like our annual African Partnership Sunday). The RIC Sunday is observed by RIC congregations on the last Sunday of every January, and at this worship service we publicly affirm our God-given “ministry of reconciliation” to all (2 Corinthians 5:18).
By doing so we publicly extend an ongoing commitment and invitation of full inclusion to people:
- regardless of age, class, color, and ethnic origin…
- regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation…
- regardless of relationship status (single, partnered, married, divorced)…
- regardless of ability or disability…
Eternal God, giver of all gifts, you are the giver of all life and the creator of all creation. We thank you for giving us your inclusive ministry of reconciliation according to your grace and good pleasure. As you will, lead us to follow more fully in the steps of Jesus Christ and to manifest more fully your universal, reconciling truth in our daily lives. Amen.