From “Far Off” to “Near”
Carman Thompson of Drumbo, Ontario, Canada
So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God. -Ephesians 2:17-19
The Ephesian letter is clear that when the author refers to “you who were far off” and “those who were near,” he has a theological distance in mind, not a geographical one. It is the author’s way of reminding Gentile Christians that they who were once distant from God and unaware of his grace have been brought near through their trust in Christ.
In contrast, the author says that Jewish Christians (those who were near) were never very far away. And yet through the gift of Christ’s salvific peace, these old distances no longer matter since both groups are now members of God’s household. Both are regarded as God’s children. Despite former divisions, each of them has equal access to the Father through the One Spirit.
It is still common for us to assume those who live in distant lands are different from us, both spiritually and socially. This perception is challenged by the example of my dear young friends, Matthew and Irina. Matthew is a Canadian who thrives on new adventures. After graduation Matt traveled to different countries to live and work for a while. On one of those trips, he met Irina who is from Russia. They fell in love, married, and for a few years lived not far from me. In them, West met East, and the differences dissolved.
After a few years, the church asked them to travel to the other side of the world for a ministry assignment. They were ready. They who had become near and dear to me again traveled far away geographically. But this is where Ephesians 2:17-19 speaks so clearly to me. There is something wonderfully comforting in knowing that, despite distance, we each have access in one Spirit to the Father. It is as if my friends are really only a prayer away. After all, we are all members of God’s household. We are God’s children. What a wonderful gift is God’s grace that breaks down time and distance between us.
“…all things in God and God in all things” (Mechthild of Magdeburg).
Reflecting on Presence
Breathe deeply and become present to the Presence with you here and now. Take a few moments in the silence to reflect prayerfully on the following questions:
Where have you been aware of God’s presence in your life?
What is God’s invitation to you in this story?
How do you desire to be more open to God’s presence and invitation tomorrow?
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.