Christ has brought us peace by making us all one people.
You Gentiles by birth—called “the uncircumcised” by the Jews, who call themselves the circumcised (which refers to what men do to their bodies)—remember what you were in the past. At that time, you were apart from Christ. You were foreigners and did not belong to God’s chosen people. You had no part in the covenants, which were based on God’s promises to his people, and you lived in this world without hope and without God. But now, in union with Christ Jesus you, who used to be far away, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought us peace by making Jews and Gentiles one people. With his own body he broke down the wall that separated them and kept them enemies. He abolished the Jewish Law with its commandments and rules, in order to create out of the two races one new people in union with himself, in this way making peace. By his death on the cross Christ destroyed their enmity; by means of the cross he united both races into one body and brought them back to God. So Christ came and preached the Good News of peace to all—to you Gentiles, who were far away from God, and to the Jews, who were near to him. It is through Christ that all of us, Jews and Gentiles, are able to come in the one Spirit into the presence of the Father.
So then, you Gentiles are not foreigners or strangers any longer; you are now citizens together with God’s people and members of the family of God. You, too, are built upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, the cornerstone being Christ Jesus himself. He is the one who holds the whole building together and makes it grow into a sacred temple dedicated to the Lord. In union with him you too are being built together with all the others into a place where God lives through his Spirit.
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
The moment a drop of water falls onto a cloth, the moisture disperses, gently spreading across the fabric, gradually soaking the whole piece. It is as natural as the kind smile that one face passes to another. When God’s love dwells deep in our souls, the warming, unconditional love that we express, is spread across the network of community, with all those whom we meet. Those who were ‘far away’ become connected through the grace in the space between us. This brings unity, as commandments and rules that segregated us, no longer apply in God’s family. Labels, ‘boxes’, categories, unbending rules and practices, really cause so much dissonance with the welcoming message of Jesus. The Spirit blesses us all through our common baptism. Christ has brought us peace by making us all one people. Who, then, are we to block this?
Confessional Meditation – Radiating Love:
Please see an accompanying video on the Churches Together SA Youtube Channel here.
FIND: A smooth bench top. A glass of water. A clean tea towel or cloth.
Use a clean, dry tea towel or handkerchief.
Lay it flat on a table or bench top.
Dip into the glass of water. Recall its coolness & refreshment on a parch tongue.
Remember your baptism, washing over you, a visible sign of an invisible grace.
Let some drops of water fall onto the centre of the cloth.
Focus on how the water filters across the cloth, diffusing across the threads.
Reflect on this week:
Has your face worn a welcoming smile as you greeted another?
Has your hand offered simple hospitality – a cup of cold water?
Have your words offered care and positive love?
Have your eyes seen the pain in another and acknowledged it?
Has unconditional love for others flowed from you?
Responsive Confession ‘Simply, because they are…’
Jesus, Friend and Brother to all, hear our prayer.
We, who celebrate being part of your family,
too easily forget what it is like to be not included.
Forgotten, set aside, unseen, and unknown,
Nor acknowledged, welcomed. respected, or understood;
Nor having an opinion sought and not be listened to when an answer is offered.
Remaining friendless, though surrounded by many,
is a very lonely space in which to be.
Silent prayer of acknowledgement
In our comfort, we remain distant.
We are informed of those seeking inclusion but do not act.
We meet with our friends but not seek out the friendless.
Forgive our unseeing ways, lack of empathy, and empty practises.
We see your inclusion of all, not by
race, religion, age, gender, societal structure,
wealth, work role, politics, education or health,
but, simply, because they are.
Your love flows as naturally as a drop of water on a dry cloth,
Flowing past, around and beyond barriers set by human minds and actions,
offering love, grace and belonging to all.
Refresh our ways, Jesus,
with the water that brings life to our parched ways.
Prayer of Assurance
Friends, Christ has brought us peace by making us all one people.
In assurance we pray:
Warm our hearts, so that our smile radiates welcome.
Open our ears to hear lament.
Reveal to our eyes the invisible ones in the ‘between’ spaces.
Strengthen our actions with grace,
so that, the space between all your people
mirrors our connection and belonging
to the radiating love of God.
In your name we pray. Amen
© Rev Anne Hewitt 14/07/2021
this reflection & prayer may be shared as long as the original writer is credited.