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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, July 20, 2018

Today’s Scripture 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)

We are made one in Jesus Christ. We all have access to the same God through one and the same Spirit. Christ reconciles us to be one humanity. He is our peace. Believers belong to one household of God as members of one family. Such is the reality God has created. How do we live into this reality?

I experienced firsthand how. In 2000–2005, I served on the General Assembly Task Force on the Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church. Its twenty members were purposely diverse in several ways, including a broad range of theological perspectives, with different viewpoints on whether to ordain gay and lesbian persons. Assuming that encouraging Presbyterians to go their separate ways was not an option, we sought to claim our oneness in Christ Jesus. We listened and talked, making space to truly hear one another. We did not take majority votes, knowing that could produce winners and losers. Instead we used communal discernment processes to listen for where God’s Spirit was leading us to move forward together. Together we prayed, studied scripture, worshiped, and grew to love one another. In that love we lived out that when one suffers, we all suffer. When one of us rejoices, we all rejoice. Amazingly, we experienced our peace and unity in Christ and with one voice made recommendations to the whole church for moving forward. It taught me that we need to trust and rely upon God’s Spirit to make possible what seems impossible at the outset.

Almighty God, you are Source of Life for us all. Reveal to me any barriers I put up in my heart that distance me from others or diminish another’s worth. Use me as your instrument of reconciliation that brings people towards one another. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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