On the last Sunday of this month, our congregation will have its yearly Kirkin' o' the Tartans service. This is always a wonderful celebration of the Presbyterian heritage as a bagpipe band leads in a parade of family tartans. The depth of the service builds out of a connection to generations past and our familial bond today. Many who participate express the feeling of unity with their brothers and sisters as a family. At the beginning of this month was World Communion Sunday. On this Sunday, we joined with other churches and denominations across the globe as we symbolically gathered at "one table" to share in Holy Communion. It is a powerful reminder that the Christian family stretches beyond our doors.
In Paul's letter to the Galatians, he spoke of our connectedness as the people of God. "So in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26-28, NIV)
In this heated political season, the lines of separation between parties are clearly drawn. In the last few months, tensions have risen in protest of officer shootings. The divisions of party, gender, race, nationality and even denominational affiliation have put sibling against sibling, neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend. The body of Christ described in 1 Corinthians 12 illustrates that we are not only connected but we need one another. Our differences are our strength. Our display of unity should not only be reactive to natural disasters or local tragedies, but proactive as we reach out with love to our neighbor.
When I went off to seminary, I met people from all over the world. I cherished the chance to soak up the faith stories of brothers and sisters from faraway places and the gospel message united us. Eventually, I spent more and more time with friends from Korea which interestingly led to me joining the Korean Association. At no point did I ever feel left out or uncomfortable. As much as I tried to learn the language the only thing I now remember is the name of some food dishes and how to say hello in Korean. The word, translated, is "annyeong-haseyo" -- not an easy word to say. I worked hard to learn it and now when I meet someone who is Korean I greet them in Korean and you would think that we had known one another our whole lives. The walls immediately crumble and suddenly I have a new friend, just because I know one Korean word.
In our present climate of distinguishing ourselves from others by what makes us different, I pray that we can look for how we resemble one another. Our common goal of a better life can unite us. The fact that we live in the same community should give us plenty to discuss as we work toward making our community stronger. The fact that we worship the same Christ and carry the title "Christian," should break down all man-made barriers in order to become the body Christ intended us to be.
Kyle Hite is senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Greenwood. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.