Sermon For Sunday, September 14, 2014 Acts 2:1-21
“A Global Embrace”

This is the second sermon in a series of sermons:

Following The Fundamentals Of The Faith (Without Being Fundamentalist!) Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Cleveland, Ohio ~
Rev. Allen V. Harris, Pastor & Preacher ~ E-MailA Twitter: @FranklinCircle ~Pastor’s Blog:

To watch a video of this sermon, click here:

Global_MinistriesVideos Shown In Today’s Service:


Last week we talked about Life Long Learning as a fundamental of the faith. Being an active, intentional, and consistent seeker of wisdom and truth, and finding trusted teachers and resources is critical to a healthy, vibrant faith. Today I want to make the case – alongside the videos you’ve seen and heard – that another fundamental of a healthy spirituality is a global embrace.

From the moment God began creation, there was always more to what we knew and experienced. Even when we were comfortably happy in the Garden, we knew there was something out there East of Eden. Then when we were sent off into the big world, and given charge to tend and care for it, we were challenged to have a global embrace. Throughout scripture there is a somewhat violent and sometimes comfortable interaction with the world beyond “us.”

With the impending birth of Jesus, we get a pretty direct challenge to think globally, as the magi from the east came to honor the messiah, the “newborn king.” As Jesus prepared to leave his Disciples after the resurrections, his parting words included, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” and “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” With today’s scripture, usually only read at Pentecost the clear indication that this good news of Jesus Christ was not meant just for those who sound, and look, and eat, and act like us! This is a message all the world needs to hear!

And this leads me to a critical point as we understand what it means to have a global embrace for a vigorous faith. Just as an embrace means something very, very different – and harmfully so – when it is forced upon another person or someone is manipulated into the embrace, so our sharing of the good news of the gospel of Christ. When the Christian faith is forced upon another culture, it becomes something else. When the story and ways of Jesus Christ are used to manipulate people, particularly people who might be vulnerable or in need, it is twisted into something it is not.

The history of Christian missionary movements has not always been so positive. From the early European settlers in North American trying to “civilize” the indigenous peoples through so-called “Christian schools” and forced conversions, to the threat and actual use of force and violence in countries around the world when native people’s chose not to convert, our history has had significant horror and sadness.

The new model of missionary work, which you clearly saw in the three videos, reflect a new way of doing ministry. It begins with the understanding that the people and cultures we are visiting have great wisdom and truth to offer us, whether it is spiritual or religious or not! Plus, most all of the countries we work in have a rich and widespread history of

Christianity – some hundreds of years before a “Christian” even stepped upon the earth in South, Central, or North America! The new approach leaves arrogance behind for humility, and begins by asking two questions: “What do you have to teach me?” and “What needs might you have that we could help fulfill, and what needs do I have that you might fulfill?”

The difference in the approach is like night and day, and has the possibility for real transformation and is far more true to the Jesus we read about in the gospels and know in our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit. If the message of Christ is so powerful, as we believe and preach and teach, then it will need no force, no manipulation, not even an abundance of preaching. Living the word of God and following the way of Christ will be the best sermon we ever preach.

I thank this congregation for having a long history of supporting the work of Christ around the world, and for having a Global Embrace. It thrills me that the Vacation Bible School program has recaptured the vision of a world-wide faith, and this year’s “Journey To India,” next year’s “Journey To Columbia,” and the year after that’s “Journey To The Congo” will be a fantastic way to rekindle, re-inspire, and re-equip this congregation for it’s own “Global Embrace!”