December 5, 2013

Celebrating our diversity in community

By James Townsend, vice president for enrollment management and marketing
SCRIPTURE: Romans 15:4-13 (NRSV)

Have you ever lived in a community where you knew the people who lived next door and across the street or hall? For me growing up, it seemed that living near to someone meant doing life together. I remember my parents talking with neighbors on a regular basis – at home, at the grocery store, at church and at numerous places of business. Yet looking back I realize how protected and sheltered I was to people different than myself. We only recognized the holidays that we cared about, were only concerned about the traditions we inherited or started, only worshipped the way we were taught and only served people who looked much like we did.

In college this changed a bit when I lived with someone who was not a family member and didn’t have the same beliefs, traditions and attitudes that my family and I had growing up. It was the first time I remember having to allow for other versions of “community” life. Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to work with people who I don’t look like, don’t act like, don’t share common beliefs with or honor similar traditions, and these years have been some of the best of my life because I have been able to see Christ through sameness and differences.

Do you have someone in your community that you don’t look like, talk like, share beliefs with, celebrate the same holidays, or has a different political view than you? Take time to celebrate that diversity – knowing that God is present in all cultures and people. And during this Advent season, may the Holy Spirit bless you and your family with a spirit of unity and harmony.

SCRIPTURE: Romans 15:4-13 (NRSV)
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
‘Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles,
and sing praises to your name’;
and again he says,
‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people’;
and again,
‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples praise him’;
and again Isaiah says,
‘The root of Jesse shall come,
the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles shall hope.’
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.



Comments (7)

  1. Thanks James! I was at GC when this diversity thing was just starting there, except for international students. Remember when Marian Anderson, who was there for an LM concert, had to go to Elkhart to stay overnight, as no hotels in Goshen would accept her. And I’ve always wondered if she was offered hospitality with any GC people? We learn so much about who we are, as well as understanding others, when we reach out. We are all God’s children and there is a little of Him to be discovered in each one of us.

    Vera Agonafer December 5, 2013 |
  2. Thanks, James, for the very timely reminder. Wilma

    Wilma Shank December 5, 2013 |
  3. Thank you for this reminder that diversity in political viewpoints, religion/spirituality, and culture is something to be celebrated and that unity does not mean sameness. How freeing!

    Betty December 5, 2013 |
  4. Yes, quite timely: “Take time to celebrate that diversity* – knowing that God is present in all cultures and people.”
    *fine print – certain restrictions apply: LGBTQ need not apply for faculty positions

    Crissie Buckwalter December 5, 2013 |
  5. I agree with you. We need to reach out to those who are not like us.

    Barbara December 5, 2013 |
  6. Thank you for these thoughts. We need to always remember that Christ came for everyone, especially those in whom we find some difference. Reading the other comments makes me realize that we all still have a long way to go, so keep the these gentle reminders coming!

    Nanci December 5, 2013 |
  7. Excellent reflection.

    Mary Jane Lederach Hershey December 7, 2013 |