Taking Galatians 3:27-28 as his main text, Pastor AJ Mosley’s sermon on the theme of ubuntu Wednesday offered practical advice. “Putting on Christ” is more than just putting on clothes, he said. It is “putting on” divine unity.
His listeners included some 60 Eastern Mennonite University students and many more campus community members, some of whom attend Divine Unity Community Church in Harrisonburg where Mosley is executive preacher. (Founder and lead pastor Chris Johnson is a 2010 Eastern Mennonite Seminary graduate.)
The convocation worship service, sponsored by Black Student Union and Multicultural Student Services, was the final event among others in recognition of and tribute to Black History Month.
Mosley’s message, along with a musical selection by Divine Unity’s Every Nation Campus musical group and a litany by Black Student Union members, focused on ubuntu, a South African word meaning compassion, humanity and togetherness.
Mosley pointed out that the concept of unity is not only part of the name of his church but is among the characteristics that “define us.” One of those characteristics, called “house habits” on the DUCC website, is “We Choose You.”
“This is an understanding that there is nothing we will qualify or make you do outside of what God has done to make you be chosen,” he said. “When you come into our family, we choose you.”
Taking the rest of his sermon from Paul’s instructions on how to choose each other, Mosley expounded on the metaphorical and literal meaning of “putting on Christ”: For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:27-28).
While everyone in the congregation is dressed and covered, clothing hides our flesh and gets in the way of true seeing. “When I see you, I don’t necessarily see you,” Mosley said. “…Some people put on labels before they put on Jesus.”
Being truly clothed in Christ, he said, happens through spiritual practices of prayer and Biblical reading, preparing yourself and living authentically into God’s call to service, and being in community with your brothers and sisters who will “hold you to your confessions,” he said.
Then if we are properly clothed, we can “push past our divisions,” those divisions which Paul named so long ago that still exist today.
“Jew and Greek, that’s racial divisions. Slave nor free, that’s socioeconomic status. Male and female, those are gender lines. Paul is teaching us that when we put on Christ, all that gets covered in Christ. It’s not wrong to wear your status, it’s not wrong to wear your race, it’s not wrong to wear your gender. It’s wrong if that’s what covers you. When we talk about race, class and gender, that is internal to what you are enclosed in. Your race isn’t a proper cover for you, your class isn’t the proper cover for you, and your gender isn’t the proper cover for you. Christ is the proper cover for you.”
Unity, he said, lies in “the wardrobe change,” the awareness of Christ in all of us.
Music, the word, arts and more
Every Nation Campus, a music group from Divine Unity, began the service with a musical number that included Earnest Kiah on the piano, Bruce Cypress on drums, and vocalists Jenna Hostetler, Norman Jones, Joshua Gomez, Courtney Ott, Nicia Whitcomb and Sierra Orr.
Pastoral assistant Tae Dews gave the opening prayers and Bobby Simmons provided a scripture reading.
Black Student Union members and officers Jourdyn Friend, Anthony Parker, Jakiran Richardson and Precious Waddy gave a litany.
During February, BSU also sponsored the annual Town Hall on Race, a candid and space for members of the campus community, as well as a film showing of “The Hate U Give”and a talkback.
BSU also kicked off a new monthly event, “The Black Box,” a showcase of student art and performances hosted in the Campus Center’s Black Box Theater. Alumnus Maleke Jones ’18, who performs as Meechy Jay, was February’s guest of honor.
“We believe through art we can come together as a community and celebrate each other,” said Alexa Lahr, speaking on behalf of the Art Club and BSU.
The international fashion show was rescheduled for April.