Our scripture today is full of architectural imagery. The writer of Ephesians celebrates how Christ has broken down a "dividing wall," and is building a new dwelling place for God and God’s people. In this passage, the writer is particularly concerned about the wall which separated Jews and Gentiles in the first century BCE; but this letter is surely relevant to every time and place. Christ continues to break down walls of hostility and bring people together!
As a young man, I worked with a carpentry crew for several years. We repaired and remodeled older homes. Among the things I learned was the critical difference between load-bearing walls and partition walls. A load-bearing wall, as the name implies, carries weight. It supports the ceiling, the floors above, and the roof. A load-bearing wall is structurally essential. If one is torn down, the house itself may fall. Partition walls simply divide space. They carry no weight and can be removed without any damage to the integrity of the structure. In a remodeling project, to tear down a partition wall is simply to open up and rearrange things for the sake of the people who will live there.
We live in a world of many walls—physical, social, cultural, national, and religious. Often we imagine these walls to be load-bearing, essential, but many of them are just partition walls of our own creation—walls of fear, prejudice, or self-interest. The writer of Ephesians tells us that Christ the carpenter has broken down such walls. Christ remodels our lives, our church, the whole world for the sake of new life. We don’t have to be afraid that the house will fall! We are simply being invited into a more open and gracious dwelling place.
O skilled and gracious Builder, you have created space for each of us and put out the welcome mat! Free us from fear so that we can all come home. Amen.
David was God’s anointed king over Israel. He believed God desired a house, a temple worthy of God. But God wanted David to understand that only God can build things that truly last. Thus, God promised to construct a dynasty from David’s family. From this line will eventually come the ultimate King, the Messiah, who will rule God’s people forever. The Messiah will complete God’s work of uniting all people as children of God, and the author of Ephesians declares that this has happened through Christ. All God’s people—Jew and Gentile—are now part of a holy, spiritual temple. In Mark, Jesus shows that part of being a great king is showing compassion. He puts aside his own desires to help those in need of guidance and healing.
Read 2 Samuel 7:1-14a. When have you changed your opinion on something significant? What led to the change?
Read Psalm 89:20-37. What helps you recall God’s faithfulness in times when you may feel abandoned?
Read Ephesians 2:11-22. Where have you found Christ breaking down dividing walls between groups of people? What part does your Christian community play in bringing people together?
Read Mark 6:30-34, 53-56. When have you had an experience of illness or accident that left you isolated from community? How did that increase your awareness of others in that situation as you moved to health?
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