TAKE A MOMENT TO BREATHE IN GOD’S PRESENCE as you begin.
14 For Christ is our peace; in his flesh Christ has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 Christ 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, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17 So Christ came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Christ both of us have access in one Spirit to God. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In Christ the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
REFLECTION by Janet Hagberg
A large man with flowing white hair and a waxed curling mustache. A man who’d lived much of his life on the margins. And here he was stirring up conversations and asking difficult questions at a big active suburban church. He asked a friend of mine and me to go with him for a poetry reading group at one of the men’s state prisons. Naively we said yes. Although that experience only lasted a few months it led to a similar experience at the women’s prison. And that led me to volunteer there for several years. I learned a lot from women in prison about generosity and survival. But what I learned from Ralph mattered even more. He taught me to face my fears of people who are different from me and to open my heart to learn from them.
Fear of people who are different from us is a national pastime or maybe a national disease. And we so rarely have an opportunity to get to know someone who we would normally not know—or be afraid of. So how do we connect? Sometimes with just a fluky chance to try something different, like I had with Ralph.
PRAYER. In this time of Lent, open us to the mystery of the work you are doing in the world to break down walls and to invite us, in Christ, to hold difference with compassion and love. Renew our humanity, and open our hearts to the work of your Spirit in the invitation to love our neighbor. Amen.
TAKE A MOMENT OF SILENCE as you close.