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Christ has broken down the dividing wall – Ephesians 2:14

On Sunday, members of Bethany Lutheran in Crystal Lake were invited to Bethany Lutheran in Chicago’s church picnic. Our churches had met each other before through Pastor Carrie Ballenger’s encouragement. She did her internship there and while she served at our church worked at continuing the connection through music. 

In September 2020, Courtney Steadman, Vice President of Bethany Lutheran in Chicago’s council and passionate young adult leader reached out with an email letting me know the history of their church performing concerts at our church and enjoying the fellowship. She also extended an invitation to me to join their worship service on Zoom in hope that we would renew the relationship that had started. Some of us have joined in worship, coffee hour, and in Bible Study. Members of their community also joined our worship service.

It was so good to meet face to face on Sunday. During our time together we ate amazing food, shared stories, toured their building, and laughed together. We made many connections and discovered that we have some of the same issues at our churches when it comes to technology, youth involvement, reentry into the building, and more. To me this time was sacred time, a time to begin to think how we might strengthen our relationship with each other so that we might develop trusting, authentic friendships in Christ. 

Systemic Racism is an issue in our communities, and I believe taking time to build relationships with communities of color is what God is calling us to do. To build authentic relationships and friendship with Bethany in Chicago will take consistent, intentional time. This is how we break down walls of division. 

Speaking the truth in love, the apostle Paul, confidently states that the divisions between Gentile and Jewish Christians have been erased by Christ. In Christ, a new humanity has been created that has removed the divisions of hostility. Ephesians proclaims that Christ has broken down the dividing walls. 

What breaks down those dividing walls is the grace of Jesus Christ. Learning to live as people who have been forgiven is at the very heart of the Good News of Christ. The call to “lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called” involves living as a people who have been forgiven. There is an important first step that we often forget, and that is we need to repent before we are forgiven. We need to know the impact of systemic racism before we can fully embrace the hope of forgiveness. 

Our call as Christians is not creating divisions, but recognizing the promise that in Jesus Christ, those divisions have been removed through the grace of God. And, for this we say, “Thanks be to God.” Amen.