Updated: Mar 10
A Lent Reflection for Friday, March 10th
By Pastor Cindy Riley
Lectionary reading: Psalm 95; Exodus 16:9-21; Ephesians 2:11-22
Selected passage: Ephesians 2:11-22
Ephesians 2:11-22, New Living Translation
11 Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. 12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
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.
19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
Paul begins today’s passage with the imperative, “Don’t forget”, or put another way, remember where you used to be and who you are. In this time of polarized thinking, we all find ourselves on one side or another of various issues. The systems of the world create points of division across lines of race, gender, sexuality, economic status, and the list goes on. This polarized thinking has created barriers within communities, families, relationships, and yes, the church. Paul refers to the dividing wall in the temple courts that served as a barricade to keep Gentiles from getting any closer to the Holy of holies where the presence of God resided. The Gentiles who sought to worship God and be part of His people were relegated to being on the outside looking in because of this dividing wall.
I wonder what dividing walls we have erected that keep those who are seeking God relegated to being on the outside looking in. Where are we as the body of Christ erecting walls between ourselves that keep others from wanting to be part of this “new” way of life Jesus ushered in?
We are often blind to these walls because we think we have erected them in defense of the gospel or to protect the faith in some way. The gospel doesn’t need to be defended. The gospel is The Good News but I am afraid that we’ve turned it into bad news with our own walls of hostility.
Take some time and ask God where you might be more committed to an issue, a conviction, or way of understanding and therefore building walls. Maybe you have a difference of opinion with someone so you avoid eye contact with them for fear of where the conversation could go. Perhaps you avoid connecting with certain family members because they sit on the opposite side of an issue from you. Or, maybe you avoid interacting with a certain person or group of people because you don’t understand how they can be the way they are or why they don’t see scripture and God’s ways the same as you do. These are all building bricks for walls of hostility.
Jesus tore down these walls through his death, burial and resurrection.
This Lenten season, allow God to disrupt your comfortable spaces and reveal where you have built walls. What bricks of gender, race, class, difference of understanding, etc. have you built walls with?
Let go of the security these bricks provide for you and humbly
Repent of your part in building walls;
Receive God’s forgiveness;
Risk reaching across differences and spend time with those not so like you;
Restore unity one step at a time with the help of the Holy Spirit;
Remember who you are and whose you are as we all sojourn together;
And…be patient & kind with yourself. These walls were not built in a day.
I trust in your healing work that tears down the walls of hostility in our lives.
Please give me eyes to see what you see as barriers to the Good News
And fill me with courage to make a change.
About the Author
Cindy is currently the Planting Pastor of New Beacon Covenant Church in Swannanoa, NC. She and her husband Dennis share four daughters and 5 grandchildren aged 2 months to 13 years. Cindy enjoys hiking the trails of NC, traveling (especially to see grandchildren), reading, writing, and a good cup of tea.