A Sermon that almost wasn’t, Equality in Mexico, and Freedom in a Cell

by Jim on 12 September 2010

To be honest, it was almost the sermon that didn’t happen.

First there was a lot of unexpected business – you know, sickness, doctor’s appointments… oh, actually, you don’t know about it all – but just add quite a few more things to what you might have read here, and you can imagine.

But the big problem – I’m enjoying, yet again, new medication from my clever doctors.  The result?  Things like getting up in the morning, getting work done, and thinking, are extremely difficult.

So difficult, that it was late Saturday and I had no sermon.  Not one word.

Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.  The only way out of this – sugar and caffeine.  Lots.

And, of course – prayers for HELP!

Well, somehow, by some miracle, I did have a sermon.  It was, unfortunately, a very loooooong one (it’s easier to go long than be brief – many of you know exactly what I’m talking about).  And how much was understood – well, I won’t ask.

But I did learn a few things.

We’re still in Ephesians – now in Ephesians 3.  Paul is still talking about our inheritance.  Drawing from Ephesians, I defined our inheritance last time I spoke… our inheritance is the eternal goodness of God toward us in Christ.

Well, in Ephesians 3:1-13 Paul talks about his special job – sharing the Good News with Gentiles.  The great Mystery – that has now been revealed – that Gentiles are equal in the body of Christ.  Jews and Gentiles – and from other passages we know that we could give this a wider application – male and female, rich and poor, etc.  We’re all together in one Body – the Body of Christ – the Church.

One cool thing is that we’re celebrating Mexico’s bicentennial this week – 200 years of independence.  So I brought up another illustration of freedom and equality – the Feelings of the Nation (Sentimientos de la Nación), written by one of the heroes of the independence in 1813 – José Morelos.  It was one of the first – perhaps the first, attempt to put into writing a national law prohibiting slavery (whether slavery was technically even legal in Mexico before this is another question – but that had to do with Spain.  I’m talking about written Mexican proclamations).

Before 1810, not only was there slavery, the caste system had become ridiculous.  There were so many different names for different races that no one could possibly keep track (check this out).  And, of course, you know it was the white Europeans who were considered the most advanced.

As a part of his list of declarations for the emerging nations, Morelos wrote,"To prohibit slavery forever, as also the distinction of caste, leaving all equal with only vice and virtue to distinguish one American [Mexican] from another."

It reminds me of what Martin Luther King Jr. said almost exactly 150 years later in the United States – "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Perhaps King had been reading Morelos.

Actually, it was final legal abolition of slavery and caste in Mexico (in September of 1829) that was one of the precipitating factors in the Texas Revolution and Mexican-American War.  Many Texans weren’t ready to give up their slaves yet.

But, of course, 1750 years before Morelos, the Apostle Paul was sitting in a prison cell, claiming that he was really a prisoner of Jesus Christ.  And he proclaimed an unheard of equality of all nationalities – everyone who was in Christ.

Now, I did want to tell you something neat.  Not too long ago a local church in Canada contacted me (you know who you are), wanting to get involved in the new church plant here.  Well, after some communication back and forth, this church wrote a letter to our church here in Mexico.

So, as an illustration that we’re a part of the worldwide church, I read the letter during my sermon.

It was great.  I think those believers in Canada must have the same Bible we do.  Their encouraging letter fit the service like a glove (thanks to Rod and Mayra’s translation of the letter, the night before, by the way).  Now the letter is up on the wall where we meet, so that people can read it for themselves.

So, although I’m not happy with the medication, I managed to learn something through the fog.  And it’s a great way to start the week – celebrating not only the tradition of freedom in Mexico, but also the peace and freedom we have with God in Christ.

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs,
members of the same body,
and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel I was made a minister
according to the gift of God’s grace,
which was given me by the working of his power.

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints,
this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles
the unsearchable riches of Christ,
and to bring to light for everyone what is
the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
so that through the church
the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known
to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness and access with confidence
through our faith in him.
(Eph 3:6-12)

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