By Jordan Luther
On Sunday, July 17, my congregation (Zion) chartered a bus from Souderton, PA to worship with our Christian siblings at Philadelphia Praise Center, Nations Worship Center, and Indonesian Light Church in South Philadelphia.
We spent several months planning for this trip. As Pastor Hendy Matahelemual has already shared, this idea was born over lunch in early May. The pastors of our respective congregations met and collaborated on what it would look to have our own Mennonite World Conference where we would worship, fellowship, and share a meal together.
Leading up to our visit, the Zion congregation did our part to prepare for the trip. We dedicated our July worship series to the importance of the global church and our Mosaic relationships. We studied the story of Peter and Cornelius from Acts 10 as our biblical and theological framework before our visit. Below is an excerpt from my sermon on Sunday, July 10.
What does it look like to participate in a global, intercultural church?
The simple answer. It looks a lot like eating different foods.
Eating the local food and graciously accepting hospitality is one of the best things we can do as cultural outsiders. Eating another’s food opens doors to new relationships and for the Spirit of God to shake things up.
If I had to summarize our Bible story from Acts 10 today into one sentence, it would be this: just eat the food.
What does it look like to participate in a global, intercultural church?JORDAN LUTHER
We too often tell this story from only Peter’s perspective. We easily forget that God is at work in both Cornelius and Peter’s lives. God desires to bring them both together, despite their cultural differences, in a spirit of mutual transformation.
Both Peter and Cornelius are mutually transformed through their meeting. God’s initiative to bring them together gives us a taste—literally—of what it is like to come together as a global, intercultural church.
Their story shows us that the best place to start becoming an intercultural church is to just eat the food.
Perhaps eating new foods is a simple but profound act of surrendering to God’s mission to bring all people together through Jesus Christ our Lord—without having to sacrifice our deep cultural identities. Can it really be this simple?
Yes! Just eat the food.
May we, like Peter and Cornelius, lean into the blurred lines between who is guest and host. May we do so with the confidence that it is God who is setting the table and bringing us together. May we come to the table eager to learn from one another in a spirit of mutual transformation.
God has set the table. We just need to show up… And eat the food.
Just eat the food.
Jordan Luther is the former Associate Pastor of Faith Formation at Zion Mennonite Church in Souderton, PA. He is starting Clinical Pastoral Education at St. Luke’s Penn Foundation this fall and attends Wild Church at FernRock Retreat.