Pentecost 2: All Are Welcome, June 23, 2019
It’s the small words that count most: in today’s Epistle, Paul tells the Jerusalem Christians that their welcome does not go far enough. The Gentiles do not have to subscribe to all the Jewish regulations, he insists. What these Gentiles have to do is be baptized and proclaim Jesus as Lord.
Sometimes Paul gets carried away. In this case, he presses his point by telling his Jewish colleagues that all the old categories they had followed all their lives are too confining. What follows is absolutely radical. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ.” They note his emphasis on all.
One preaching professor reads this Galatians passage and observes that the hardest words to learn in any language are never the long words but the short words. The Galatians have no trouble pronouncing the long, ponderous words: circumcision, for one. But they stumbled over three short words: faith, grace, baptism, and especially, “all.”
“All” is very hard for the people in Galatia to follow. All is at the heart of the teachings of Jesus – all are welcome at the table, all are forgiven, all can be cured. It is about taking that first step, as the man possessed with the demon in today’s Gospel knew so very well, taking the step towards health and wholeness. All are welcome at the Lord’s table at Emmanuel Church.