Worship Notes

 

A Division That Brings Peace

Today’s word is difficult to hear, but all too obvious at the same time. The message of God’s governance among us, which lifts up the lowly and challenges the mighty, brings division. The good news brings division because some welcome it with exuberant joy, since it is the only good news they hear, and some resist it because it is a profound challenge to human assumptions about God, the world, and us. We might be surprised to hear Jesus say he has not come to bring peace, but division. This is because he insists on a gospel of peace for everyone, not just a few. The division Jesus speaks of is not the goal, but it is the inevitable outcome of insisting that everyone is included in God’s family. Division and conflict are the price he is willing to pay if that’s what it takes to usher in a world of true peace rooted in God’s mercy. Jesus paid that price when he was crucified for his faithfulness to God’s welcoming way. The church continues the ministry of Jesus when it enters into the fray of lifting up people the world deems unwelcome or lowly. Who is excluded or marginalized in your community? Why is this so? Does your church mirror this exclusion and marginalization, or does it transcend it with a welcome to those very persons left out elsewhere? What division has this faithfulness to the gospel caused? The most wonderful witness the church gives, and the most divisive thing it does, is declare forgiveness to every repentant heart in Christ’s name: the excluded and the exclusive, the lowly and the mighty. The most beautiful inbreaking of the governance of God is when humble persons gather around Christ’s table, open their hands to receive bread and wine, and deeply embrace their own welcome and their neighbor’s welcome at the very same table. In that sacramental moment, the peace that led to division turns into complete peace.  

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