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Online Sunday Service: How Long, O Lord, How Long?

Posted on 29 Nov 2020, Pastor: Dr. Robert Johnson

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Posted on 22 Nov 2020, Pastor: Dr. Robert Johnson

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Posted on 15 Nov 2020, Pastor: Dr. Robert Johnson
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New Hanover Presbyterian Church
New Hanover Presbyterian Church
Daily Devotional for Monday, November 30, 2020 from Jonathan Moelker

Ephesians 2:17-20

17 So he [Christ] came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 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.

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In this passage, Paul is continuing the theme of unity between the Jews and Gentiles. With Christ, one’s original distance from God does not matter. All are brought in! We see this in the visitors that Jesus has as a child. Shepherds in a nearby field and wise men from foreign lands. Everyone from the fields nearby to faraway countries knew, Jesus’s existence in the world has made a difference.

This passage uses two key metaphors to describe what it is like to be a part of the body of Christ. The first metaphor is citizenship. Last week we talked about how the Body of Christ identifies with migrants. Once again, in this passage we are reminded that we were once seen as aliens, but Christ saw us as citizens. We are brought into the kingdom of God, no matter where we actually live. In the first century, the difference that people separated themselves by was if you were Judean or Roman, but God does not consider national origin. God sees us all as belonging.

The other metaphor Paul uses for the body of Christ is the household. While we certainly place some importance on the household in our culture, it was much more important in Paul’s time than it is in ours now. In the first century, one’s household determined one’s importance in society. If you were from an important household, you were important. If you were from an unimportant or poor household, you were unimportant. If you had no household, no family, you were nothing.

Paul says we were once strangers, people of no family. We shouldn’t have mattered at all! But Christ puts us in the family of God. With no other requirements fulfilled, no price of admission levied, Christ counts us as one of God’s own family. We move from having no household to being a beloved member of the most important household! Excluded from all other society, hardly counted as human, Christ opens up the doors and says, “Welcome home.” Once again, in Christ, God sees us as belonging.

We humans have so many ways of qualifying belonging. We like to classify people into specific groups, reminding each other how our group is different and better than the others. We see this tendency as we divide by age, race, disability, and sexuality. These are only some of the qualities we use to try and separate ourselves from others. But just as God saw both the shepherds and the wise men as belonging to the kingdom, God calls each of us a part of the family. God tells each of us we belong.

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Lord,

When we try to exclude others,
It is because we are unsure of ourselves.
But you have accepted me. You have told me I belong in your family.
Remind me of that acceptance. Remind me of that love.
When I think I cannot love another,
I remember how you love me.
When I think someone cannot be accepted,
I remember that I am accepted.
I am safe in your family, Lord.
Because in your family, everyone is safe.
Everyone belongs.

Amen.