Uncircumcision

Ephesians 2

You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

4But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

11So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” —a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14For he 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. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

“Uncircumcision”

You might as well have said. . .

. . .unchristian,

. . .unamerican,

. . .unwhite,

. . .unheterosexual,

. . .unmale,

. . .uninvited,

. . .unneeded,

. . .unwanted,

. . .unloved,

. . .unaccepted.

 

But now in Christ Jesus—

But now, nothing!

There is no peace

Old walls have been rebuilt

and new ones constructed.

The stone is rolled away

hostility has been resurrected.

One war, two wars

can we start a third?

One in place of two?

Try each one looking out for number one.

No longer Strangers and Aliens?

Of course not, we who were once pilgrims

have made aliens illegal and strangers unwelcome.

 

Don’t forget,

by nature we are children of wrath.

Heaven help you if you are not like everyone else.

Following the desires of our flesh,

we can twist a God rich in mercy into little more than a tribal totem capable of immeasurable pain and suffering.

To be certain, this is our own doing.

Have we ever been this far off?

Yet, we boast unaware of the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.

 

Oh God,

be our peace,

bring us near,

build us together,

dwell in us.

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Resurrection

Everything is green. Spring is here. Trees are blossoming and flowers are blooming. Bugs are crawling and birds are flying. The barren winter, such as it was, has been replaced by the sparkle and shine of spring. There are many miracles that occur in spring. Dormant trees and flowers start to grow. Seeds start to sprout. New life seems to emerge from every direction. For a Christ follower, the new life that spring brings forth can hardly help but be a reminder of the resurrection. Yet, all the blooming, budding and blossoming of spring are not resurrection, not the resurrection. While we witness the miracle of life all around us on these warm spring days, these miracles are not the miracle. They are not an empty tomb, a risen Christ nor a living Lord. In as much as spring’s new burst of life reminds of the resurrection and points us toward the risen one, we ought to relish and embrace it. To the extent that it dilutes or minimizes the radical reality of that astonishing Easter morn, we would do well to distinguish between what reminds us of resurrection and what actually is resurrection.

While all of God’s creation whispers about and points toward the resurrection, the resurrection of Christ is an entirely unique event. There is nothing else like it in all of human history. The coming of spring is an annual event that repeats itself year after year. Its wonder and beauty comes forth in a rather predicable fashion each year. As spring approaches, we know to expect certain events to take place, flowers bloom, grass grows and the weather get warmer. The resurrection of Christ is singular. It happened once a long time ago. It does not repeat itself year after year. We have heard about the resurrection but we did not see it. We believe not because we have seen, but because we have been given faith. We believe it as an act of faith.

We believe it not because we have seen it, but we have seen it. No, not the actual, literal event, but we have seen resurrection. We have seen it, not simply in nature’s metaphor, but in our lives. We have seen it in God’s grace-giving, life-liberating, mercy-showing, compassion-extending, salvation-offering way of dealing with us. We were blind, but now we see. We were lost, but now we are found. We were dead, but now we live.

While blossoming flowers and returning songbirds may remind us of Christ’s resurrection, changed lives are the best indicator of its reality. Lives that show mercy tell us that resurrection has happened. Lives that offer salvation let us know that resurrection is still happening. Lives that pursue justice remind us that resurrection is not finished yet.
Lives that live for Christ proclaim to us and to all the earth that God still invites us to repentance and forgives us our sins.