August in Queensland is multicultural month, where we celebrate being a multicultural society.
Any cursory reading of the New Testament shows the multicultural milieu in which Jesus lived and ministered and in which the early church grew and matured. It’s a wonderful lens to see the revelation of the gospel and the life of the church.
Think about the models of discipleship in the gospels and in the parables—the Roman centurion who said, “Just say the word, Jesus”, the Syrophoenician woman who challenged him, the Samaritans, the Greeks seeking to meet Jesus.
The gospel writers, with an eye to what was going on in their early church communities, were faithfully recording the diversity of the response of faith to Jesus. That faith was demonstrated and lived out in what for some would be surprising quarters.
The early church was multicultural from the very beginning.
It is important for us as a contemporary multicultural church to think hard about the relationship between gospel and culture. Often it is the lens of another culture that allows us to see where we are blind to how the gospel has been “domesticated” in our own culture.
Being a multicultural church helps us in our call to be a sign and foretaste of the kingdom of God.
It’s a big challenge, and a wonderful opportunity.
I invite you to take this month to listen to the voices of diverse cultures within your faith community or workplace; what gifts do other cultures bring to being that sign and foretaste of the kingdom in your context?
Most of our congregations throughout Queensland consist of folk from a variety of cultural backgrounds. I encourage you to take the opportunity to have a wider appreciation of the gospel by listening to those diverse experiences and perspectives.
In a few weeks I’m taking a group to India as part of our partnership with the Diocese of Amritsar, Church of North India.
This is the second or third time some people will be making the trip. They love it, just like I do.
We see a country of different faiths. Those faiths live together and honour each other. Of course there are tensions from time to time, but at the grassroots India is a place of creativity, a place of rich and wonderful diversity and a place where the mystery of life is embraced and recognised.
The theme for Multicultural Queensland Month 2019 is “We all belong”. To find out more, visit the Multicultural Queensland Month website.