On Sunday in church, I talked about the Berlin Wall. It was built in 1961 to keep the people of East Germany from crossing over to West Germany. The wall separated the German people from one another. In some instances, parents could not see their children and grandparents could not see their grandchildren. Brothers and sisters lived a few hundred yards apart but had no direct contact for over a quarter of a century. When the East German government finally allowed people to pass through the wall in 1989, people from both sides climbed on top of the wall in a spirit of celebration and began dismantling it.
People have been erecting walls for as long as we have been able to build. In the first century, many Jews divided the earth’s population in two: the Jewish people and everyone else. When the Christian Church was first forming, some of the early followers of Jesus (who were Jewish) insisted that any Gentiles who wanted to join them had to first become Jewish and agree to follow the Jewish customs and practices. In Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, he described this separation as a wall. After Paul described people on the other side of the wall as aliens, strangers, hopeless, without God and far away, he went on to say that Jesus tore down that wall and proclaimed peace to people on both sides. Paul then wrote that Jesus created one new humanity. As Mary Susan Gast writes in her book, That We May all (Finally!) Be One, “Those who were ‘them’ yesterday are ‘us’ today, and ‘we’ are changed forever.”
Let us recognize and acknowledge the walls in our world which keep people from one another, especially the walls that are built by people who consider themselves to be superior to those whom they wish to keep on the other side of the wall. And let us join with Jesus in tearing down the walls by seeing others as valuable and equal in God’s eyes and in our own.
Kahu Alan Akana
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“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by the Kahu (Pastor) of Koloa Union Church, a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.