There is something truly amazing that happens when cultures come together. Perhaps it reminds us that we are not alone in the world. Perhaps it helps us to escape our own problems for the moment. Perhaps it even does something more –
it reminds us that we are a part of something greater and grander than the boundaries of our own region.
Last Sunday, Gateway UPC was honored to host All Nations Sunday, an international event right here in our hometown. The sanctuary decorated with flags from every country around the world; translation into English, Spanish, and Portuguese; an inspiring message about our place in the global church; and a song sung in eighteen languages – a glimpse of the kind of worship we will lend our voices to in heaven –
set us up for an atmosphere of international understanding and, most of all, international worship.
After the service, we enjoyed a global tour: Around the World in 90 Minutes. In an hour and a half, we explored tables decorated with items from every region in the world, complete with a smorgasbord of international foods. It was such a treat to see Mexican tamales, Chinese chow mein, Spanish paella, Nigerian jollof rice, Tahitian po’e pudding, Jamaican jerk chicken with coconut rice, Israeli falafel, Malawian mbatatacookies, to name a small fraction of everything that was available, frolicking together on the same plates.
Thank you to everyone who made an effort to be involved in our All Nations Sunday celebration, whether you helped decorate, cook, or you simply showed up. It was our honor to host you and we hope you will make us a part of your future celebrations in October. We hope to see everyone again next year! Please keep our missionaries, churches, and people around the world in your prayers.
God can still work miracles and is not limited by race, culture, language, or borders.
Ephesians 6:16 highlights one of the most important pieces of weaponry a Christian should carry:
”Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
When we think of the way the shield was used in battle, one of the most beautiful demonstrations was a Roman tactic. When fighting as a group, a phalanx of soldiers could position their shields so as to form an enclosure around themselves, called a testudo (tortoise).
This is what faith does – when our stories and lives are joined to those who have come before us, we are linked to a heritage that cannot be easily overcome. We are joined with people who currently are a part of the faith but also with every single person who has come before us. When one of us struggles or falls, the others come around that person in their defense.
Sometimes we face situations we’ve never faced before. It’s in that moment that the enemy comes in like a flood and we don’t know what to do.
But then a story comes to mind – we remember what Abraham or Moses did in that situation. In these moments, our faith is to be joined to the faith of others. When our one shield combines with others, we position our faith around the body of believers and we can help one another. When someone among us is weak, we can shield them momentarily until they are strong enough to stand again.
Faith is our belief but it is also our identity.
Of all of the things it could be to us, how beautiful it is that faith is our shield.