He Is Our Peace

Geared Up For Life

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

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?

I came in like a wrecking ball / I never hit so hard in love / All I wanted was to break your walls / All you ever did was wreck me

“Wrecking Ball” from the album Bangerz · Copyright:
Writer(s): Maureen Mcdonald, Lukasz Gottwald, Stephan Moccio, Henry Walter, Sacha Skarbek, 2013

“Wrecking Ball” could have been written by St. Paul (or whoever wrote the Epistle to the Ephesians). Admittedly it is hard to picture that author swinging in seated on a giant wrecking ball, wearing what the author came into the world with; nor can we imagine twerking in the acropolis, but the idea in this chorus sounds hauntingly like the words written in the Epistle text for this weekend. At least, there seems to be a central point. Don’t believe me? Don’t believe that Miley Cyrus could stumble across some scripture truth? Well, me neither. But here it is.

So many things jump out at us in these verses. But running through it all like a . . . well, like a wrecking ball is the image of the wall. There is division in this passage, separation. There is us and them; there is then and now; there is the in and the out, the strangers and the citizens, the aliens and the members of the household. It makes you wonder what a word like peace is doing in such a setting. It makes you wonder if peace is even possible when there is so much division. It would take a monumental effort to overcome those divisions and tear down those walls. It would take something that seems beyond us.

A set up? Well, maybe. But we have come to accept Jesus as the answer to so much that we’ve forgotten what the questions are. We have come to see the easy solution to problems that we’ve forgotten just how pervasive and how immense those problems really are. We think walking with Jesus is a stroll in the park when, in fact, it is a long, hard climb up an insurmountable peak.

He is our peace. We love that idea. We lean into that comfort, that joy. We beg for a little bit of peace. Jesus is the comforter who pats us on the head in the quiet moments of our lives before sending us out to survive in the moral fray that surrounds us. If we can just hold on, we think, if we can just stay clean and undaunted by the struggles all around us, then we can retreat back into the loving arms of Jesus, who will love us back into health, who will wipe away our tears and bind up our wounds.

It is a wonderful thought, and it is often what sustains us. It is often just what we need: the Jesus who soothes and comforts; the Jesus who tells us that all will be well; the Jesus who cleans up the messes we have made with our lives. With this Jesus at our side, then we can sing “Bring on your wrecking ball!” We know that hard times will come; we know that hopes and dreams will be dashed; we know that all our youth and beauty will be given to the dust. But we also know that this isn’t the whole story. We know that there is more; there is eternity; there is something beyond the horizon, and no matter how many hard times come, there is always God’s time, God’s reign, God’s kingdom still to come. And Christ will welcome us home. We can hold on knowing that. Jesus will welcome us home.

That is the real Jesus. Trust me on this. The real Jesus, but not all of Jesus. When the author writes, “He is our peace,” he doesn’t have in mind the quiet, gentle, comforting Jesus who just wants to give us some time to ourselves. No, the writer has something bigger in mind, something louder, more transformative. He’s been listening to Miley, I’m afraid. I came in like a wrecking ball / I never hit so hard in love / All I wanted was to break your walls / All you ever did was wreck me.

This wrecking ball Jesus is about knocking down walls, the walls that divide us, the walls of hostility. In love, he hit so hard that all the things that keep us separate, all the measures we use to rise above another, to be better than, to be more important than, have all been knocked down – not just knocked down but reduced to rubble. Destroyed. Eliminated.

It wasn’t an easy battle. It took blood; it took death; it took all that he had to pour out for us. But he did it. He came in like a wrecking ball and got wrecked in the process. But the walls came down. Because of that love, the walls came down.

But here’s the funny thing. Well, maybe not so funny. Maybe tragic would be a better word to use. Here’s the tragic thing, the terrible thing; here is the horrible reality: We still think we are living behind those walls. We still think we are defined by those walls. We still think we are to keep to ourselves, to keep to our own kind, as herded behind those walls.

The walls are down, but we still live as though they were not. We still live as though there are still strangers and aliens, as though there are those in and those out; as though there are those near and those far. And the result of living that way is that sometimes we are the outs; we are far away; we are strangers and aliens. As long as we believe there are such divisions, we will continually find ourselves on the wrong side. We build the walls that Christ destroyed and find ourselves not protected but imprisoned, not released to a better life but cowering behind the very divisions we reestablish.

He is our peace. He is what binds us together into one body, into one family. This peace is not an inner peace to keep us sane in an insane world. This is a wrecking ball of peace that knocks down the insane divisions, the madness of superiority, and binds us together with those who are just like us, surprisingly just like us. Those we thought were so different are reflections of the same God that we try to bear in our hands and hearts and words and deeds are really brothers and sisters. We sit at table with them in defiance of a world that wants to build more walls. And when we encounter those divisive construction projects, then we, like him, come in like a wrecking ball. We strike hard in love. We tear down those walls, even if we get wrecked in the process. Even if. Because if we don’t, if we let those walls stay up, then we will never know peace. We will never know him as we long to do and as we need to do. Because he is our peace.

In This Series...

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes