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May 5, 2013 - Galatians 3.23-29

“You Know How Women Talk”

Galatians 3.23-29

May 5, 2013

 

23Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

 

Once I overheard two men talking at a Brotherhood Breakfast at my old church.  They were carrying on about what one man’s wife was saying something in a very gossipy kind of way which he described as: “You know how women talk.”  He then proceeded to tattle on his wife and how she talked and all the catty things the women in her little group talked about.  He was completely oblivious to the fact that he was standing there doing the exact thing he was accusing his wife’s friends of, but that is beside my point.

 

I was still a teenager at the time.  Do you think this man had a clue what he was doing to anyone’s impression of women by what he was saying?  Had I been younger – young enough not to know that this guy was acting dumber than a bag of hammers – that he was wrong – I might have actually thought that something was wrong with women.  I now know that the gospel of Christ is inclusive of all people, just as our text this morning tells us, but the church often will – either unintentionally or intentionally – shut people out directly or indirectly.  The crisis for the church today is that we are not reaching enough people for Christ, and we need to unlearn some of the harmful things we taught ourselves that are not in scripture.

 

Just as I overheard the two men unintentionally slander women, my tradition has at one time or another slandered not just women, but African Americans, those who are disabled or mentally challenged, those who are economically disadvantaged, Asian Americans, Africans, other denominations, people who do not dress well, and any other countless examples of people who look different.  For all of these sins, we should all ask forgiveness.

 

Those kinds of differences once divided the church, even before we called it the church.  The Jewish people were always concerned about keeping the Gentiles at arm’s length, and they struggled with God’s commandment to “welcome the stranger.”

 

After then cross, after Jesus, everything is different.  That’s why Paul says, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”  Paul lists some of the most ancient and deepest distinctions between people that have ever existed.  Think of all the human pain that has existed because of those who sought to enforce those differences.  Think of all the human suffering that occurs when one group of people says to another, “I am your master and you are my slave,” or “I am superior to you because I am a man, and you aren’t” or “I am white and you aren’t” or “I am rich and you aren’t.”  In Christ, those distinctions are gone.

 

Paul does not say that they no longer exist.  These distinctions still exist, but they no longer matter.  In the church, those distinctions do not count for anything.  Who you are as a child of God is not determined by who the world says you are.  Poor people are often treated with disdain in the world, but in the church you are just as important as anyone else.  The Holy Spirit always seeks to open us up, never to shut us off from others.

 

How do women talk?

Some women in Scripture: Deborah, Rahab, Rebecca, Leah, Bathsheba, Jael (Judges 4), Abigail, Ruth, Sarah, Tamar, Esther, Hannah, Elizabeth, Hulda (2 Kings 22.14), Phoebe (Romans 16.1), Mary & Martha, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna (Luke 8.1-3), Priscilla, Lois, Eunice, Dorcas/Tabitha and Mary the mother of Jesus.

 

Women were the first one to preach the gospel.  They were the first ones to deliver the news of an empty tomb.

 

Did you ever notice that you can’t baptize yourself?  You can’t do it – it is done for you, in the presence of other believers.  That’s how you are born into the family of faith, and others have to bring you into this family.

 

There is a saying in the Orthodox Church, “Those who go to hell, go to hell alone.  Those who go to heaven, go to heaven together.”

 

How do women talk?  In my life I have been honored to learn from some wise and godly women.  One such woman was named Queenie, and she watched me in the church nursery when I was a baby up until I was old enough to not be in the nursery.  She was my first black friend. One such woman is Dr. Molly Marshall, my theology professor at Southern Seminary in Louisville, and the President of Central Seminary where I got my other 2 masters.  There were countless Sunday School teachers in my life that helped form me with their lessons of Jesus and the stories of the Bible. If you ever have the chance to hear Joni Ericksen Tada preach on heaven, make sure you do it, and Barbara Brown Taylor has enriched my own preaching with her careful and insightful analysis of scripture.  But of course the women in my life that have enriched my life the most with their words are my wife Becky and my Mama.  My indebtedness to them cannot be put into words.  I know how women talk.  Their talk has shaped who I am and without the talk of women in my life I wouldn’t know Jesus.

 

You know how women talk.  You have heard it here today.  You have heard Thelma tell us of the great things God is doing in our church.  You have heard Victoria and Delores  pray.  You have heard Alice, Katie, Lonna, Barb, and Berna sing.  You have heard Julie bring a message from God to your ears and mine.

 

Do you know how these women talk?  I hope you are so blessed.