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Umoja: A Reflection for Thursday, December 15

By Ramona Bamgbose

Daily Lectionary reading: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 2 Samuel 7:1-17; Galatians 3:23-29

Selected passage for reflection: Galatians 3:23-29

Read

Galatians 3:23-29

23 Before the coming of this faith,[a] we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Reflect

Do you remember you… before you were you in Christ? I have been a Christian since I was 13 and to be perfectly honest with you - it was a transformational experience. Up until that point, I had already experienced beyond my share of suffering so having a faith to lean on, that was my own yet grounded in a historical faith tradition of folks who were use to enduring, was transformational. Today, I identify as many things. I show up in the world as a cisgender Black woman who is a wife, mother, daughter, friend and spiritual care professional yet perhaps the most important identity that I have ever claimed was my identity in Christ.

I am a Christian. I am a Christian. I am a Christian. I say this more for me than for you… I am a Christian.

Nowadays, I struggle with my identity as a Christian. This passage claims that we are all children of God through our faith and yet, the children of God seem as divided as our current political landscape. It feels like we have to be either this or that, and there is no grace for the mystery or in-between. Being Christian was suppose to disrupt the nonsense that so easily divides us by taking a stance and saying, We are different, yes!, and yet this faith reconciles us. Being Christian was suppose to unite us as brethren in faith when the law would seek to divide us or keep us bound to its rigidity and inflexibility to allow all to partake in the goodness of the God of all creation. Being Christian is something to rejoice and be glad about because it is for all people, and yet somehow we find ourselves like the Galatians beholden to the law that Christ abolished. In this passage we are reminded that we are all one in Christ Jesus which feels both like a rebuke and an invitation these days. Why are we treating our kinfolk in the faith as strangers?

I am a sibling, and one of the things that I grew up hearing from my mom is this, “I love each of my children differently because each of you are different. I have parented each of you differently because each of you needs different things from me.” Isn’t it true unto this body? God knows us intimately, and I do not believe that we are co-laborers with a God who is looking for uniformity as much as God desires for us to walk in unity.

Respond

As we enter into this advent season, I invite you to sit with the first principle of Kwanzaa - a seven day festival (with seven principles for each day) that celebrates African and African American culture and history beginning the day after Christmas until January 1.

Question: Habari Gani? (What’s the news?)

1st principle Response: Umoja (Unity) to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Rest

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Thanks be to God.


About the Author


Ramona Bamgbose (she/her/ella) is a Chaplain at Loyola University Health Science Campus in Maywood, IL for medical, nursing and healthcare students. She resides in Woodlawn, Chicago with her husband and three children. She loves being a mother, wife and spiritual care professional. She’s passionate about her identity as a Christian Black woman, and delights in supporting others as they discern their vocation and gain greater self-awareness as integrated and holistic beings.


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