Peace Is Possible
Carman Thompson of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
For 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. He 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, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. -Ephesians 2:14-16
The author of the letter to the Ephesians offers that Christ has brought about reconciliation between Jewish and Gentile Christians through the cross. Clearly the statement “He is our peace” applies equally to the people formerly on both sides of this divide. Scholars John Carmody, Denise Lardner Carmody, and Gregory A. Robbins in their book, Exploring the New Testament, suggest that the author makes peace the central word in this passage because he may have inherited several generations’ worth of disputes between Jewish and Gentile Christians.
Theologian Luke Johnson adds additional light to the image of the dividing wall in verse 14. Johnson says it refers to the wall dividing the court of the Gentiles from the Holy Place in the Jerusalem temple, with a sign on the wall threatening death to any Gentiles who entered. Similarly the law of Torah was a barrier that separated and divided the two groups. Human hostility had misused the gifts of God as signs of God favoring one group over the other. Now, Christ had brought peace.
In the latter part of the twentieth century, the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland were in full swing as Catholic and Protestant Christians fought each other. The conflict dragged on for over thirty years while in Canada reports of bombings and shootings seemed a constant part of the news. Having Irish heritage, I could not help but be interested, though I often despaired. The tensions ran so deep and suspicion so strong that I could not imagine how this conflict would ever end.
The fighting finally stopped in Northern Ireland, though tensions and suspicions remain. For my part, I learned never to give up hope for peace. Peace is possible. If peace is possible between Jewish and Gentile Christians and between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, then peace is possible between Jews and Palestinians today. Peace is possible between Muslims and Christians. Peace is possible in our neighbourhoods.
Peace is possible. Pray for peace. Oh, pray for peace!
“… the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).
Breathing God’s Compassion
Pay attention to your breathing and let it become calmer and deeper as you focus on God’s presence. Ask God to breathe in you. Imagine each breath carrying the light of God into your lungs, bloodstream, and every cell in your body until God’s Spirit fills you. Now imagine breathing out God’s compassion and grace each time you exhale, especially into places and situations in need of loving care. Give thanks to the Spirit, source of every breath, source of life.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.