Community Updates

Preparing for Worship: United in Jesus

Drew Billups
February 17, 2023

Content by Ariely from

         Note: Christian Formation & prayer at 9:00AM.
                  Sunday worship at 10:15 AM (childcare thru 2nd grade available)

                  In-person worship and live stream
Dear Grace Family,

We live in a divided time when it’s increasingly hard to find common ground. A time where even verifiable facts no longer offer a foundation for dialogue, but are routinely discarded as ‘fake news.’ It’s easy to shop for the truth that we want.

While we do live in a time of heightened partisanship, it’s important to be reminded that division, tribalism, racism, and ethnic tension are not new in human history. In fact, in chapter two of Ephesians we find that a significant reason Paul wrote this letter to the young church at Ephesus was the threat that division posed to this community of Christ-followers and their mission to the world around them. There were ethnic tensions in the early church.

In addressing this conflict, it may seem random to us that Paul uses the imagery of a temple—a place of worship. Is there a relationship between division and worship? The picture above shows a recreation of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. If you look closely, on either side of the castle-like walls around the inner courts, there is a small fence-like wall. Paul calls this ‘the dividing wall of hostility’ because this wall was responsible for the segregation of gentiles from the heart of worshipful activity. They were excluded from participation based on their ethnicity.

While we may be tempted to understand Paul’s language of a destroyed wall in the temple as a striking repudiation of his Jewish heritage in favor of the new Christian faith, it is actually in great harmony with the messianic hopes expressed in Isaiah. In this passage, Paul references Isaiah 57, which says, “Peace, peace, to those far and near.” He had deeply internalized the international mission of YHWH, where no foreigner could be excluded from God’s people:

And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isa 56:6-7)

When racism and division prevent us from raising our voices together in worship, something precious is lost. And as Dr. King put it, the body of Christ is “blemished and scarred.” The church is impoverished and hampered in its mission when we fail to welcome the gifts of all God’s people. When we segregate the body, we lose the life-giving benefits of unity across lines of human difference.

But, when we get it right, something splendid and beautiful arises! God’s people in all their glorious differences sharing gifts with each other and raising our voices together in abundant worship of our creator.

I hope to worship with you Sunday!

This Sunday: Ephesians 2:11-22 (NIV)       “United in Jesus: From Foreigners to Fellow Citizens”Here is the Order of Worship.Grace and peace,Drew