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August 22

2 Corinthians 5:16-19

16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. — 2 Corinthians 5:16-19

Race Reconciliation

by Brandon Owen
Harpeth Heights Campus

Ephesians 2:14,” For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.”

During worship at Harpeth Heights, we have begun practicing Passing the Peace. With this ancient liturgical practice, we are demonstrating the reality that former enemies are no longer enemies. I imagine it was pretty shocking when people in Ephesus began noticing the most bitter of enemies breaking bread together. People who would formerly not be caught dead together were investing in one another’s lives, and in doing so they were recognizing their common humanity.

Recently I had the honor of spending an entire morning with civil rights attorney Fred Gray. The esteemed counselor gifted us with stories full of wisdom and faith. His arduous life’s work has been to help foster equality in our country, and I pray it will not soon be forgotten. He left us that morning with these words, “People in power are always reluctant to relinquish it.”

The text in 2 Corinthians tells us we have been reconciled with God, through Jesus, and given the ministry of reconciliation. Reconciliation demands, from at least one of the parties, a release of power. It was the love of power that kept the Jim Crow South as it was for far too long. It was the love of power that kept countless religious leaders from hearing and seeing Jesus as God’s own Son. But Jesus has torn down the dividing wall, thereby allowing any factions or groups to truly set aside their differences.

Unfortunately, there remain far too many examples of how systemic racism continues to affect our society today. “Reconciliation” is probably not the best word to describe efforts to reverse systemic racism; I prefer “healing.” But reconciliation is exactly what God intends for us—a return to the relationship that humans and God enjoyed in the Garden. Such reconciliation between us and God is the only true route to the kind of relationships that allow us to properly Pass the Peace.

Praxis

  1. Where have you witnessed healing or reconciliation recently?
  2. What are some examples of opportunities God has given you to participate in the ministry of reconciliation?
  3. Pray that the Body of Christ will be open to and aware of the many ways we can continue to bring healing and reconciliation in our communities in Jesus’ name.
August
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