Remember….Scripture tells us…..Remember….
Remember that you were once the outsiders. Remember that God’s love is never forced because being included in God’s Kingdom is always a choice. True love is never coerced or forced, but is always entered by one’s choosing, one’s acceptance.
God does not put up borders or barriers or walls between humanity and God. God does not fence off God’s love from any part or particle of Creation. Division is the work of humanity.
At the center of the Good News of Jesus is that the barriers, walls and obstacles we place between ourselves and God, between ourselves and living into the reign where pain and sorrow and death cannot defeat us---the Good News of Jesus is that these walls can be obliterated. But this requires our choosing, our choosing a Way of Life.
God does not invite or call us to live the American way or the Republican or Democrat way; God does not point us to the consumeristic capitalist Way or a way of suffering. God invites and calls us to the Way of love, the Way and Path we see in the life of Jesus.
Does pain, suffering, questioning, and discomfort still exist in this Way? Yes, Beloved, yes it does. All we have to do is look at the life of Jesus to know this to be true. But in Jesus we see a human who isn’t controlled by pain or suffering, a human who isn’t moved by fear or anxiety, but a human grounded in sacrificial love whose plumb line is mercy, compassion and justice for all others.
Beloved, God does not put up barriers, walls, or obstacles. As followers of the Way of Love, as People of God, not only are we not to put up barriers, walls and obstacles, but Beloved, part of our work, the same work we see in Jesus’ ministry, is to tear down the walls, barriers and obstacles that already exist and that are continuously being built.
St. Paul tells us that 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….[so] that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace….”
Peace, then, is not necessarily merely the absence of violence or the end to chaos. Peace is the rejoining, the reconciliation, of humanity. Peace is the re-binding together with one another through our love and allegiance to Jesus, to this Way of Love.
Now, Beloved, this means when our brothers and sisters are treated as if they are separate from us, as if we do not belong to one another, we are to proclaim the Good News of Jesus and shout out-- with our actions, our choices, words, and votes -- we are to shout out: We are One! We are One Body! We are One Creation.
We are not simply this nation or this people of a certain language or folks of the same origin and skin color. But we are HA ADAM---humanity. God’s beloved community.
The world’s way is to separate the Beloved into nations, into denominations, into categories and labels. God’s way is to proclaim to humanity: You are all One—the Created—My beloved Creation. God’s way is to knit together, not unravel. And when we deny a sibling, we weaken all. When we shut out or cast aside a brother or sister, we threaten the security and wholeness of the entirety.
Each week, we come to Eucharist to remember:
Remember who we are.
Remember whose we are.
Remember that at one time we chose to be outside of God’s reign.
Remember that we were welcomed in, that we were sheltered.
Remember that we are chaplains of hospitality, not the police officer between God and our neighbor's belonging.
Each Sabbath, each week (and hopefully more often), we come away to rest in God’s love and presence in order to remember. We come away to return to the Way, this Way of Love---where borders, boundaries and walls are obliterated, where we are One because we are citizens of God’s reign first and foremost. Because our allegiance is to Jesus.
So, Beloved, let us now pause. Take a deep breath. Settle in and open our hearts, ears and minds. Let us come and rest in these words spoken to us and to every people of every nation:
“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.”
Hear what the Spirit is saying to God's people.
Jane Johnson is the pastor and priest of the Beloved Community of Intercession Episcopal and Redeemer Lutheran.