They are here:  http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/05/17/478389720/after-50-year-legal-struggle-mississippi-school-district-ordered-to-desegregate 

And here:  http://www.sheboyganpress.com/story/news/local/2016/04/22/autistic-boy-cut-school-concert/83407046/

And here:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/05/17/united-methodist-church-to-respond-to-rumors-that-is-about-to-split/?postshare=5391463519875799&tid=ss_mail

 

Manufactured  lines of division seem to cross, gouge and angle through every interaction of the fabric of humanity.  Whether through ability, race, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity…any way we see difference someone already has rushed to mark a superior and inferior, an included and excluded and above or below.   And as much as we see it today in the news or around us, it is important for us to remember that this is not something new.  No, sadly, this is nowhere near the first time in history we have been so dramatically forced to be concerned about the lines of division drawn between us.  

It was in the church too and pretty much right at the beginning.  You see, barely had the Spirit finished its Pentecost work of uniting people across languages and cultures when the infant church began to view the inclusion of Gentiles (non-Jewish people) with great suspicion.  “Sorry” they said with shrugged shoulders and disapproving eyes, “the Law says.  It’s clear.  It says it right there in the Lord’s word…we can’t associate with you. We can’t dine with you, and we sure can’t be seen with you.”  (This is only a slight paraphrase.)  

It was a clear moment of choice for the church.  But, in this clear moment of having to choose between Law and Spirit, perhaps we can’t blame them for almost choosing the easy choice.  The choice which seemed most stable and reliable.  The one printed in black and white and passed down for centuries on hard stone.  “Sorry, it says it right here.”

What if it had stayed that way?   What if we’d never been invited in?  Me…you…our sisters and brothers and fellow saints in Christ.  What if every single one of us reading this had been the ones standing outside looking in hoping to catch a glimpse of the sacred community?
 
 
 
It might have been.
 
 
We have forgotten how close WE were.
 
 
 
We’ve forgotten and so we’ve continued to both actively and passively in our world and faith draw new lines.  We’ve drawn and drawn and drawn…cutting across the Body of Christ with wounds deeper than any Roman centurion’s whip.  And so, I wonder, what if we heard the story again?  What might be brought to our world’s life if again we heard and celebrated the story of when we and everyone were gathered in?  
 
This week, I invite you to hear that story.    The story of how Peter stood up and said “EnoughNo more lines.  I understand now that God shows no partiality, and what God has made clean…let no one call unclean.”   Let us hear the story that we may repeat it, sing it, pray it and live it.  We’ll see you on Sunday.  
 
 
Rev Brent Ross grew up loving the Twilight Zone and the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. For better or worse both of these things enter into writing his sermons every week.