Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. 17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. Ephesians 2:14-18 (NLT)
“Obviously, he said, it is not always easy to walk the path of faith with other people. “Sometimes it’s tiring. It can happen that a brother or sister creates problems for us or scandalizes us, but the Lord entrusted his message of salvation to human beings, to us, to witnesses,” he said.
“It is through our brothers and sisters with their gifts and their limits,” the pope said, “that he comes to us and makes himself known. This is what belonging to the church means.” (1)
Back in college, I had a class in dramatic literature. (hey it was a better option than Shakespeare – or so I thought) One of the things we had to do was tell a story in mime, which meant we had to learn to mime. You know the pull the invisible rope, imitate some poor victim walking by the class, and of course the infamous idea of being locked in the invisible box.
I was thinking about that this morning, as I read the passage from Ephesians this morning in my devotional reading. It was probably Paul’s image of a wall, but somehow I pictured being back in the class, and my struggle to be a mime…..you see, I had trouble finding the invisible wall. Is it 2 feet away, 28 inches? Sometimes closer, sometimes farther, I just couldn’t find the perception to discern the wall.
It has been said, from everyone from Tony Campolo thirty years ago, to the latest church growth theorists that the church is the most segregated group in the USA, and Sunday mornign 9-12 is the most segregated time in the week. Not just because of ethnicity, but because of age, music preference, language barriers, culture, and too often – what my denom brotherhood called “non-essentials” and what my Lutheran brethren call “adiaphora. Where we fail to surrender our freedoms, not because someone opposes them, but because we want to protect what we prefer.
But for those of us in Christ, those walls are as much an illusion as the walls that box the mime in; that which restricts us is but our own perceptions, and not reality.
For those walls are based in the sins of idolatry, or hatred, of believing the worst about those that we think are unlike us. For those walls exist because we have been taught to be afraid of, for those that we have to extend pastor our comfort zone.. We’ve been told we don’t have to change our music, our vocabulary, just as the jews were told they didn’t have to change their diet, or which day they worshipped. But we can change those things, in view of Christ ministering to those, we can change them in love, We can be patient with each other, sacrificing, not the Jesus who brings us together, but those things we really can’t divide us, as we dwell in Christ. Walls that needed to be broken down and nailed to the cross in the first place.
Can’t we realize, if we have found our life in Christ, then we can abandon that which we thought defined our life? Can’t we treat those walls, like the mime does, at the end of his show, and simply ignore them? Can’t we simply look to Christ, and in our weakness, be transformed to where we realize we are One? That we are called to live in love, even when that love means we sacrifice for others? As Pope Francis points out – the church isn’t optional, and he isn’t talking about just belonging to a congregation, but the Church – all of it. Where God calls us together with our
Our hope is in Him, in a place where walls do not exist. Where sinners are gathered, granted repentance and love and mercy… and find themselves to be one in Christ.
May we realize this reality sooner than later, as we realize the Lord is with us all.
(1) Pope Francis, public Address, 6/25 http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1402635.htm