Joanne and I were discussing the other day an issue that we have seen in family members, friends, and others we know who have a aboriginal background. In particular we were thinking of and praying for those who are christian. And the issue is that of pain and more deeply, that of shame.
Our discussion centered around the cross. The work that Jesus did in reconciling all who believe to him. But, not only to him; but also reconciling to each other. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul bluntly says, there is no Nationality, Gender, or Social Class distinction in Christ Jesus. Everyone is equal. Everyone is welcomed. Everyone is loved. Every one is accepted. Everyone is gifted. Everyone is forgiven. All of you are ONE body in me.
This morning I was reading through the book of Ephesians. My intention was to look at the prayers in there. But, as I read long, my mind kept going back to our conversation of the other day. And I thought about deleting the words “Jews” and “Gentiles”and replacing them with “Aboriginees” and “Whites,” or if your from the U.S, or other country insert “Negro” and “White” or “Black”and “White.”
Without wanting to stretch the comparison too far, the letter to the Ephesians has a similar racial background to that which is common in our modern era. Back then, the Jews thought they were superior because they, and they only worshiped the only true God. They were God’s people. They, and only they were acceptable to God. And every one else was excluded.
However, the book of Ephesians addresses this kind of racial prejudice and pride – and knocks it completely on its head. Imagine the shock on the Jewish readers when Paul says to the Gentiles: ” 2:14 For Christ himself, had brought “peace” to us. He united “Blacks” and “Whites” into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of HOSTILITY that separated us….He made peace between “Black and White” by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God, by means of his death on the cross – and our hostility towards one another was put to death.
While the whites got a slap down; the blacks were elevated from their “apparent”shame – AND now, we all have a glorious position of equality.
This morning I pray the same prayer that Paul wrote to the Ephesians. “May God truly give us all, a measure of wisdom, revelation, and understanding, so that we may walk in peace with God and each other, and that together, we will truly know the depths, the heights, the width, and the riches of God’s grace and love for us all – Praise you mighty God, who is able to accomplish more than we might ask, or think. Amen. “