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September 15, 2021

By The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D., Dean of Trinity Lutheran Seminary

At Work in the World

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For 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. ” (Ephesians 2:13-14)

Trinity’s mission is forming leaders for Christ’s church at work in the world. This week I’m thinking about the very real brokenness and messiness of this world. It’s easy to read the verses from Ephesians as a pious “happily ever after”: once we were divided; now we are united in Christ. But what does that really look like, in the midst of this broken world? What are the tangible behaviors and signs that embody our unity in Christ – the Christ who was tortured and executed to bring about that unity? How do the words of Ephesians move from expressing a first century confession of faith to shaping a twenty-first century reality?

In worship on Tuesday, we sang a new-to-me hymn, from the All Creation Sings resource. The words of pastor, teacher, and musician David Bjorlin provided some very specific images in response to those questions:

Build a longer table, not a higher wall,
Feeding those who hunger, making room for all.
Feasting together, stranger turns to friend,
Christ breaks walls to pieces; false divisions end.

Build a safer refuge, not a larger jail;
Where the weak find shelter, mercy will not fail.
For any place where justice is denied,
Christ will breach the jail wall, freeing all inside.

Build a broader doorway, not a longer fence,
Love protects all people, sparing no expense.
When we embrace compassion more than fear,
Christ tears down our fences: all are welcome here.

When we lived as exiles, refugees abroad,
Christ became our doorway to the reign of God.
So must our tables welcome those who roam.
None can be excluded; all must find a home.

Text: David Bjorlin. © 2018 GIA Publications, Inc.,
Reprinted with permission under One License A-702455. All rights reserved.

Where do we build walls and fences? Where do we draw lines that divide “us” from “them”? And, beloved of God, as the body of Christ how will you – we! – overcome those divisions?

The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D.

Trinity Lutheran Seminary forms leaders for Christ’s church at work in the world.