Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Tear Down the Walls

"For you ignore God's specific laws and substitute your own traditions." Mark 7:8

One of the most vivid memories I have of Ronald Reagan's presidency is his bold request while standing in front of the barrier that then divided East and West Berlin.

Facing a crowd of Berliners, the president forcefully stated his request -

"Mr.. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

The pressure of world opinion, coupled with unrest and turmoil within, eventually led to that very wall being dismantled, and we were all treated to pictures of families united and the newly liberated dancing with glee on top of the very barrier that had separated them for so long. The whole world watched and applauded when that wall came down.

Not too many years before, another wall came down, and I never heard about it until today.

In an article within the Palm Beach Post, writer Steve Gushee tells of the legacy of brother Roger, founder of the Taize' community in France. Brother Roger had a dream, that Christians of all denominations - Protestant and Catholic alike - come come together to worship God in Spirit and in truth. He founded the community on authenticity, humility, sacrifice, and service to Christ. And in the late 50's and 60's, thousands flocked to the little chapel Roger and his friends had built with their own hands to house two hundred. The people would sit outside in hopes of hearing a word now and then, or a measure or two of music.

One Easter morning, the crowd swelled so much that Roger and his leaders wept to see how many were still outside.

So without a word being spoken, Roger went to the back wall of the chapel he and his friends had built and began removing the stones they had placed there themselves, one by one, until finally the whole back wall was open to the fields the people were sitting in.

Now everyone was within the walls.

I wonder sometimes how willing we are to consider that those outside our communities of faith are there in some ways because of walls we've built ourselves. Our walls might be a tradition of worship style, or of dress. They might be a judgmental spirit or prideful hearts.

They could be unknown to us - those of us who have been inside for so long we've forgotten what a "wall" looks like.

Whatever they are, those things that we have built to keep others out, I believe Christ is calling out to us right now saying, "tear down those walls."


David Wilson

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