Sermon “The Peace We Have in Christ: Building the Bridge of Love”
*Scripture Lesson Ephesians 2:11-22 & Isaiah 58:9-12
Last week we talked about walls and how walls can cause great divisions between people, communities, and with God. Many of us remember these words from President Reagan as he spoke them on June 12, 1987 in from of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin:
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” That wall was built in 1961, not to keep people out of East Berlin, but to keep people in. Walls divide. Walls separate. Walls become obstacles to the free flow of people and ideas.
Walls ultimately diminish who we are as children of God.
At times walls are deliberately built for personal benefit; at times they just grew because no-one was watching or if anyone noticed they did not challenge the construction project until it seemed too late to do anything about it. These walls are subtle but divisive, often keeping people in as much as keeping people out.
Dear to the heart of Jesus was and is the unity of God’s people. He makes that great statement in John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So, this morning I want to focus not so much on walls, but bridges.
CHRIST BUILDS A BRIDGE OF LOVE.
Scripture says “….you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” Love finds a way to span the gap from one side to another. Everybody has a part in it. Every single person has a part in developing this notion of peace.
If we want a better world, we will need a better nation.
If we want a better nation, we need to work for a better state. We will have better states when we have better counties.
Better counties will come to pass when we have better cities. The reality of better cities depends on better communities.
Better communities are the direct result of better families. It takes better individuals to make better families. So if we want better families, we better start being better individuals. And that means looking at ourselves honestly in the mirror.
As yourself the questions, Am I a peace maker? Do I love my neighbor as I my love myself and family? Does the peace of Christ rule in my heart?
If you answer yes to these questions then build a bridge!
Stand in the gap! The sovereign Lord said to the prophet Ezekiel, “The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice. I looked for a person to stand in the gap but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30)
In our reading from Isaiah 58:9-12 The prophets says;
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
Simon and Garfunkel put it this way in “Bridge Over Troubled Water”:
“When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all.
I’m on your side, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found.
Like a bridge over troubled waters,
I will lay me down.” That is the meaning of the cross, a bridge over troubled waters.
Bridge people come in all sizes, shapes, colors, ages, stages and classes. One such bridge person was a little 6-year-old girl by the name of Ruby Bridges. Ruby got picked to be the first African-American to integrate her local New Orleans elementary school in the early 1960’s. One day, this little girl walked through a racially jeering crowd dodging the tomatoes thrown in her direction. She walked confidently, step by step, looking straight ahead. She did it because the night before, lying in bed, her momma had said, “You can do it, Ruby, you can do it for the world. And remember, Jesus faced the mob, too, and he dared to love those who persecuted him. He told us to bless those who persecute.”
The Peace of Christ be with you. Build a bridge that will set a better dream for the world and find a better way for us to live together.
On August 16, 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, killing 100,000 people instantly and wiping out 70,000 of the cities 76,000 buildings. The co-pilot on that mission, Captain Robert Lewis, wrote in his diary on his way home, “My God, what have we done?” Three days later a second bomb was dropped on the town of Nagasaki.
In 1955, the citizens of Hiroshima built a peace park in the center of their bomb-destroyed city, a memorial to more than 300,000 victims of that single weapon. On that memorial they made this pledge: “Rest in Peace. We promise it will never happen again.” I wonder if we are so resolved. We promise it will never happen again. May the Peace of Christ be with you.
Jewish author, Elie Wiesel, tells the parable of a man in a boat. The man is not alone, though he acts as if he were. One night without warning, the man decides to cut a hole under his seat. Other people onboard were naturally alarmed. “What on earth are you doing?” they exclaimed. “You are going to destroy us all.” “Why are you alarmed?” replies the man. “What I am doing is none of your business. I paid my fare. I am not cutting under your seat. Leave me alone.” Wiesel concludes his parable with this comment: “What a fanatic will not accept, but you and I cannot forget, is that we are all in the same boat.”
The peace of Christ be with you. And also with you. Amen.