“For [Christ] 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.” -Ephesians 2:14-20
It’s a great time to join the monthly Reformation Book Club that meets monthly on the second Saturday. This spring we will be reading LaTasha Morrison’s “Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation.”
As Holy Week quickly approaches, we fix our eyes firmly upon Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection for our sakes. Jesus has bridged the divide between God and humankind. But that is not the only bridge constructed from Jesus’ cross. Apostle Paul writes to the church in Ephesus about the struggle to reconcile Jews and Gentiles into one new community in Christ. How can they desegregate religion, let alone society? What customs and laws should be kept, amended, or thrown out? What to do about the accumulated hostility and suspicion between two groups?
For Paul, the answer lies in our common ground at the foot of the cross. Here we are, each of us, sinners in need of God’s grace and mercy. We are equally implicated in the execution of God’s Son. And we are equally ingrafted to the new humanity in the risen Son. No longer “strangers and aliens” we are “citizens with the saints and members of God’s family.”
The season of Lent has given us another opportunity for lament, confession and forgiveness. These are the same practices LaTasha Morrison proposes as a “framework for restoration” so the church can have a “distinctive and transformative response to racism and racial division.”
On Good Friday we usually sing the old negro spiritual, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” The music moves us to “tremble, tremble, tremble” in the face of Christ’s sacrifice. Bridgebuilding is trembling work. Bridge-building is Christ’s kingdom work.
Shalom, Pastor Tom