Advocacy days Sunday worship: the lens we look through matters

Advocacy days Sunday worship: the lens we look through matters

As more than 700 delegates to Ecumenical Advocacy Days continued to pursue their hope for just immigration laws, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins preached about the oneness of the human family.

Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), delivered the sermon at Sunday morning worship on the third day of the ninth annual Advocacy Days gathering in Washington.

Throughout the ages, Watkins noted, human beings have separated into distinct groups. “The broad sweep of human history is not a feel-good story,” she said. “We make boundaries, and we decide who’s in and who’s out.”

Divisions have led to such human tragedies as genocide, slavery and neglect, including the neglect of Haitian peoples until the January earthquake motivated millions to help.

“Boundaries faded a few months ago when Port-au-Prince was leveled,” she said, “but one of the poorest cities on earth could have used that kind of help any time in the last 200 years.”

The divisions that lead to animosity and neglect would disappear, Watkins suggested, if humanity were viewed through the lens of God. “The lens we look through matters.”

Citing Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth (I Corinthians 8:3-13), she pointed out that human beings share the common bond of being created by God. “No God but God, no family but the human family.”

This ideal view of humanity is shared by Christians, Muslims and Jews, she said.

Watkins recalled an experience during her recent sabbatical in Lebanon when she met with a long standing Christian-Muslim dialogue group. A Muslim sheik, wearing a black turban and robe, told her, “God is one, the creator of the universe. God has created humans in diverse groups for a purpose so we can understand the fuller nature of God. I need you and you need me. That is God’s purpose.”

“One God doesn’t necessarily make one people,” Watkins said. “But it should.”

She recounted a lecture by her husband, the Rev. Dr. Rick Lowery, Affiliated Professor of Hebrew Bible at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Okla., and Adjunct Professor of Hebrew Bible at Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Ky., about how the creation story in Genesis characterizes God.

“God is a God who creates people to tend the earth,” she said. “Adam and Eve are the primordial parents of all humanity, which makes us all one family.”

“There is no human family but one,” she said.

The example of Jesus affirms that oneness. “Our savior could sit down at table with anyone and could mingle with any crowd,” she said.

The lens through which we see one another matters, and the lens of God brings us together.

“Beyond the colors of this sports team or that, beyond the differences of the U.S. and Haiti, beyond documented or undocumented, we see one family of God.”