Touché April 13, 2018
Posted on April 13, 2018 by under Touché,

Embracing the Color of the Future

“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.”  (Ephesians 2:14)

The early church was racist.  As we hear Peter preach in Acts 3 this Sunday nobody was ready for the shift that would come when Gentiles (non-Jews) would be welcome into the community of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit was going to work some miracles by Acts 10 that would open this church up to all peoples of the world.  It is deep in the roots of the covenant with Abraham that through him all nations of the earth would be blessed, but it is harder to put into practice when we recognize our divided nature.  Hang on, we’ll get there.

Hopewell started out racist.  In 1757, when we were founded, the Protestant Dutch Reformed Church in America was embroiled in a controversy that came down to the phrase: “If you ain’t Dutch you ain’t much.”  The new world was speaking English not Dutch, some wanted preachers that were not trained in the Netherlands, but in the colonies.  Some wanted to maintain church authority through Holland (in Europe, not Michigan).  People came to church with axe handles ready to fight.  Isaac Rysdyk, our first pastor, mediated a way through for the entire denomination.  As I told the confirmation class this week, he preached his first sermon on the Ephesians text above that celebrated Christ breaking down barriers between people and races.

Wes Granberg-Michaelson presents his second challenge to the church this week, the challenge of embracing the color of the future.  Last week he looked at withering congregations that were missing the spirituality of the millennial generation.  This week he looks at the reality of the American church addressing a multi-racial future.  Spiritual vitality and energy is growing in churches that reflect the multi-racial face of our communities and our world.

The Reformed Church in America is putting forward a Hispanic church planter to be our new General Secretary.  Eddy Aleman will be presented to our General Synod in June.  Our Dutch forbearers may be amazed by the changes that have taken place since they battled with axe handles, but the Holy Spirit has a history of breaking down barriers between people for the witness of Christ to continue to grow.  I look forward to the “Church on the Other Side” as Hopewell seeks to grow into a community that reflects all the color of our community.

Thanks be to God,

Taylor

You can meet Eddy Aleman by clicking this link: https://www.rca.org/news/meet-general-secretary-candidate-eddy-aleman