“God the Gatherer”
Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, “I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.” (Isaiah 56:8)
Both our Old Testament and New Testament readings on Sunday (Isaiah 56 and Matthew 15) reminded us that God gathers people together from different cultures and backgrounds from all over the world. The texts also reminded us that we are all fully human and completely valuable in God’s eyes. As far as God is concerned, we are worth gathering! Most societies tend to label certain people as less than human, less valuable, less important, or less equal; and they tend to keep the “lesser thans” apart and separate. However, God sees us all as beloved children and delights in gathering people together who are different.
As I ponder this fact, I think that God must be very happy with our church. Our families originated from so many different parts of the world. We come from various religious backgrounds: Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Mormon, Buddhist, and people who grew up with little to no religious heritage whatsoever. People of all different ages show up. In terms of political backgrounds, I am just guessing that close to half of us had parents who were Republicans and close to half had parents who were Democrats. Some of us have made lots of money in our careers and others have spent our lives just getting by from one paycheck to the next.
Just as God has gathered us all together—whether in person at the church or virtually over the internet via the Weekly News, email, virtual church breakfasts, or watching the weekly worship services online—God is still gathering! Isaiah recognized that God had gathered together the people of God, including “the outcasts of Israel,” and also heard the divine voice saying, “I will gather others to them, besides those already gathered.” May we too recognize that God has not only gathered us together but continues bringing others to us; and may we continue welcoming them with open arms and open hearts. And may God continue to delight in the diversity among us!
Kahu Alan Akana
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.
To see a video of this week’s worship service, including the message, click HERE. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see previous worship services and many of Kahu’s past messages. You can subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.
You are welcome to join us on Sunday mornings! To see our Sunday morning schedule, click HERE.
Kahu Akana is also an accomplished artist! He specializes in creating vibrant watercolors of the flowers of Hawaii and hosts a Sunday afternoon reception in a gallery at his home, the Smith Memorial Parsonage. He also meets visitors by appointment. Most of the profit from the sales go for the maintenance and upkeep of the parsonage. To see a video about his art and gallery, click HERE. To see the gallery website, click HERE.