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. (Ephesians 2:14)
Our nation is trying to come to terms with the violent events of the past week. There are demonstrations and protests—emotional but predominantly peaceful—around the U.S., including one here in Atlanta that has been going on for over five days. People are speaking out about the racial divide in America and demanding change. Our nation wants to heal.
As part of the Body of Christ, need to find our place in the work of healing. In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells us that Christ is at work to “create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and [to] reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.”
We are Christ’s eyes and ears. We are Christ’s hands and feet. We are the voice of Christ in this critical time. Each of us is called upon to engage in the vital work of reconciliation. Each of us has to ask, “What can I do?”
Here’s an example. A friend of mine shared this on Facebook. The post is by a young black woman named Natasha Howell.
So this morning I went into a convenience store to get a protein bar. As I walked through the door, I noticed that there were two white police officers (one about my age the other several years older) talking to the clerk (an older white woman) behind the counter about the shootings that have gone on in the past few days. They all looked at me and fell silent. I went about my business to get what I was looking for, as I turned back up the aisle to go pay, the oldest officer was standing at the top of the aisle watching me. As I got closer, he asked me, “How I was doing?” I replied, “Okay, and you?” He looked at me with a strange look and asked me, “How are you really doing?” I looked at him and said, “I’m tired!” His reply was, “Me too.” Then he said, “I guess it’s not easy being either of us right now, is it?” I said, “No, it’s not.” Then he hugged me, and I cried. I had never seen that man before in my life. I have no idea why he was moved to talk to me. What I do know is that he and I shared a moment this morning that was absolutely beautiful. No judgments, no justifications, just two people sharing a moment.
Christ is our peace. Let us be Christ to our neighbors.
Together in Christ,
Rick Neale, Pastor
You shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Love one another as I have loved you.
We have heard these declarations again and again as we have been worshiping together. They are like a refrain in a beloved hymn. The more often we sing them, the deeper they penetrate into our soul. They are the foundation of our life together. Everything we are, everything we do grows out of the love of God and our identity as the people of God.
In the coming weeks we are going to look in on the lives of Sarah and Abraham, our ancestors in faith. They were living a comfortable and prosperous life, and out of the blue God said to them (and I paraphrase), “Pull up stakes and go. Leave behind everything that is familiar to you, and go to a place… well let me see… I’ll show you later. But go!”
Sarah and Abraham were given a promise and so began their journey. But there were exasperating delays and detours all along the way. How do we respond to unexpected changes? How do we keep going if we are not sure where we are going?
Let’s find out what we can learn from them about our own journey as a congregation. You can read ahead: Genesis chapters 12 through 25. Invite some friends to read with you and to come to worship with us. It’s going to get interesting!
And don’t forget to keep one another in prayer:
Show me your ways, O God,
Teach me your paths,
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
For you are the God of my salvation:
I wait for you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)
Together in Christ,
Rick Neale, Pastor