Pentecost 2 ~ Indigenous Sunday ~ Ephesians 2:14-22
I chose this scripture passage for today because it speaks of a journey of reconciliation between two peoples. In the scripture it was about Jewish/Gentile relations in the early church. In the beginning the Christian church was a reform movement within Judaism. All the earliest followers of Jesus were Jewish and stayed Jewish. Over time, as the Good News spread – thanks primarily to apostles like Paul who travelled far and wide sharing the story of Jesus and his teaching – some conflict started to emerge.
The Jewish wing of the church demanded that everyone become Jewish in order to be Christian. In their mind you had to be just like them in order to be in the church.
Jesus was Jewish. They were Jewish. It just made sense.
For a Gentile that would mean adopting all sorts of new religious and social customs, and if you were a male it would mean circumcision. This was a big deal, and big source of conflict.
Now, Paul was really good at his job as a church planter, and it wasn’t all that long before Gentile Christians outnumbered the Jewish ones. And in the end the Jewish Christian leaders gave in and learned to accept everyone without requiring full conversion to Judaism. At the time of this letter to the Ephesians though, this was still a big conflict and Paul was desperately trying to get the two groups, or peoples, or nations if you will, to reconcile.
His argument was very simple.
Ephesians 2:14 For Jesus 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.
Today is Indigenous Sunday so naturally I’m reading this passage with an eye to indigenous reconciliation.
Obviously, before you can reconcile with someone you have to know them, so I’m wondering…
What’s your experience of Indigenous people?
Did/Do you live in community with Indigenous folks?
Did you go to school with them? Work with them?
Did you know there are people of Indigenous heritage in this congregation?
It’s hard to have anything but stereotypes about any group of people until you have a relationship with them.
For me, I didn’t really interact with or meet many Indigenous people until I started doing work with the wider church. I’m grateful for the new relationships I’m discovering. I have a lot to learn!
And if you’re not in relationships with Indigenous folks when things come on the news it’s hard to know how to react. I don’t know about you but I feel really disconnected from things like residential schools, and treaty violations, and unceded lands, and the terrible stories of so much poverty, and suicide and despair in too many Indigenous communities.
We feel guilty, and ashamed, but we didn’t really do it, and yet we’ve benefited from it, and it’s all very confusing and messy. The best I think we can do is learn and try to be part of the reconciliation process as best we can.
At Faith United that has meant simple things like this worship service having this theme today – and the learning time about Indigenous spirituality we had earlier this year – and our learning and fundraising work to support the Pikangikum community.
These are good steps. These are good things that we’ve done so far. read on