11So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” —a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14For he 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. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
Today we celebrate the 15th anniversary of LCM becoming an RIC congregation. Aspects of today's reading from Ephesians echo a couple of our recent discussions:
• Easter 5 about the homemaking God. Advertising habits and hype aside, we don't buy or rent a home; we buy or rent a house, an apartment or a condo and make it into a home after we move in.
• Pentecost 2, last Sunday: the church at Galatia probably was the first ethnic church in terms of cultural and geographical variety (typically scripture says "ethnos" to indicate non-Jews, gentiles). This concept points towards the gift of the diversity being an RIC church brings.
The letter to the church at Ephesus bring us language of the:
• Household – the more private, intimate sphere of life
and language of the
• Public Arena – the more commercial and more political places where we sometimes go
The author of Ephesians uses the word "law" in the same way as the Apostle Paul does. Here law (ordinances, etc.) does not refer to the Ten Commandments; it means ceremonial law, circumcision, sacrificial law, keeping kosher. At no time did people ever believe anything other than God's grace saved or redeemed them. Laws, practices, rituals, ordinances were signs that pointed to God's gracious action and provision. The Santa Monica Blvd sign on the street corner is not the long physical sweep of Santa Monica Blvd itself; in fact, the small dimensions of the street sign can't contain much of anything. The sign indicates we're close to or on SMB. After an African-American tradition, I wear a silver bangle baptismal bracelet. The bracelet reminds me of my baptism, points to God's irrevocable claim on my life. Like Israel's ordinances, the bracelet has no saving power, but in an extremely limited sense, it is a sign of God's grace in my life.
This reading is full of dynamic language; we had a lively discussion about many of the words and concepts. Richard said it can be "startling" to find a church that truly welcomes and includes everyone. Pastor Peg said access jumped out at her. I mentioned how baptism changes us from being isolated, solitary, atomized individuals as it (literally) incorporates us into the organic, interconnected, interrelated One Body of Christ—not as an undifferentiated blob, but with our unique gifts, talents, perspectives, experiences, and contributions.
My paper notes include a lot more ideas I'm not including in this blog post because we never got to them in class, but I've kept and filed them for future reference.