What does it mean to be the dwelling place or a dwelling place for God? How can we present the church and/or the community of faith of something worthy of that designation? In this second chapter of Ephesians, this is the description that we are given of the church: the dwelling place of God. God takes up residence among us. What does it mean to be God’s home?
Certainly, at the core of it, according to Ephesians 2:11-22, is the idea of peace. We are the dwelling place of God because we have broken down the walls that divide people. We have stressed inclusion; we have focused on hospitality. Who has a place among us? Who is left out? What can we do, as a worshiping congregation to show our willingness to include, to invite, to make welcome those whom society has no room for, those who don’t seem to matter? And if we aren’t sure who these are, then maybe our prayers ought to include eyes to see as Jesus sees. Maybe we ought to pray for the wisdom to see whom we are excluding, even if inadvertently. What kind of access do we provide to our facility? How do we make room for those who are not like us in some ways and yet very much like us in the ways that matter?
To claim Christ as our peace doesn’t just mean we just get along with those on the inside; it also means we reach out to find community with those outside our walls. We stand in solidarity with those who are abused, those who are suffering, and those who are neglected. We also stand against racism and the injustice of prejudice and hate. Recognizing that we are a dwelling place for God means that we take up the causes that God, through the prophets, has stressed through the centuries.
What walls are you going to take down? What divisions do you seek to pray against, calling upon the power of the indwelling God to strengthen you for the task of dismantling the systems and structures that oppress God’s people? Maybe this act of worship is a call to discernment, an invitation for God to give God’s guidance in how the church will move out into the world as disciples of Jesus Christ ready to bring transformation.
We are called to be peacemakers, which isn’t about sitting back and feeling good about ourselves. It is about walking where Christ walked in and among the people.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.