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Monday, June 6, 2016

Today’s Reading | Ephesians 2:11–22 

So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. (NRSV)

The Jews had immense contempt for the Gentiles. Jews became unclean if they went into a Gentile’s home. If a Jew married a Gentile, a funeral for the Jew was held. This is the context in which Paul proclaims a remarkable, new reality in Christ: those who had been strangers and foreigners are now fellow citizens and members of the same household of God.

Imagine two conflicting parties who cannot come together on the basis of a legal document. A person they both love and trust intervenes. This one aids their willingness and ability to understand one another. Through the presence and efforts of the third person, the two parties are reconciled and find peace. That is what Christ does. Jesus Christ is our peace.

Currently there’s much talk—and building—of walls and fences to separate people of different countries, religions, ethnicities, and classes. To follow Christ means we break down these barriers.

Some soldiers during war brought the body of their dead comrade to a French cemetery for burial. The priest gently asked if their comrade had been a baptized adherent of the Roman Catholic church. They didn’t know. The priest apologized but said he could not permit this burial in his courtyard. So the soldiers sadly buried him just outside the fence. The next day they came to check on the grave but couldn’t find the freshly dug soil anywhere. As they were leaving in bewilderment, the priest approached and said his heart had been troubled by his refusal, so early in the morning, with his own hands, he had moved the fence to include the body of the soldier who had died for France.

God of us all, help me move and remove the fences that separate us from one another. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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