Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
This year we have dealt with a number of divisions in our nation over COVID, politics, race, patriotism, socialism, and religion. It’s hard to discuss these issues among others, even others in our own family. As Christians, we need to model ways to bridge the divisions.
As we celebrate next Wednesday our First Anniversary, I thank God for how we see a wide range of people coming together at CCDC. I’ve experienced at CCDC a sharp contrast from what too often seems our nation’s divisiveness. I’ve felt the acceptance and tolerance of others among the people from our very diverse community. We have much to celebrate!
Those who attend our meals come from a wide variety of backgrounds and races. They are longtime residents and homeless people living on the street. They are young and old. They are American citizens and immigrants. They may hold to different political persuasions but I don’t see people arguing about them. They may have different religious affiliations or none at all but they have a respect for others’ beliefs. We don’t see any tension among people even with such varying backgrounds.
This past week on Thursday I was handing out lunches all morning and got to the last couple of lunches. I unfortunately I had to tell an older white man that I ran out and couldn’t give him one. I feel badly when this happens. I told him I was sorry I didn’t have any left. He responded graciously and said, “That’s okay.” A young Black man named Dominic overheard us and he said to the man, “Here’s mine. Take it.”
This was a wonderful moment. It was a simple giving of one individual to another, but it was so very special to see two individuals cross divisions of age and race to connect with each other.
It is not a rare occurrence to see how people at CCDC cross the lines of divisions. There is an atmosphere of acceptance as people stand in line and interact among themselves. We who serve at CCDC seek to model and encourage such acceptance of one another.
The Apostle Paul urged his readers in Ephesians to live in a radically different way of Christ. We are to live in light of the grace we have received and extend that same grace to all others. We do this “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Christ has been made our Peace and through his peace, we can bring people together.
The Cross of Christ crosses over all divisions and bridges people. Paul declares in Ephesians 2:14, For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility… Paul is speaking of the division between Jews and Gentiles but his reasoning applies to all people.
CCDC seeks to carry out the mission of the Gospel which draws a wide diversity of people together in “the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” This is not a syrupy slogan or simplistic idea empty of substance. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to do the hard work of bridging the gaps and extending God’s grace to others.
When Dominic gave his lunch to the man who had none, he shows us a beautiful example of how we can graciously care for someone different from us. How many would give away their lunch to a stranger, especially if the person was of a different race? This is what Christ calls us to do.
Over this past year, our volunteers and supporters have enabled our ministry to build a community that bridges across all society’s divisions. This has been an incredible first year of our ministry. God is fulfilling our calling to be a multicultural and multiracial community of Faith. Please consider giving towards CCDC and helping us further our mission to those in need in our city’s Near Eastside community.
And please consider coming this Wednesday evening to our First Anniversary Celebration. If you want to help setup, come around 4:30 pm, and if you want to help serve meals, come around 5:15 pm. Check out on our website SignUpGenius in order to sign up and let us know you’re coming.
May God’s Peace be with you,
Pastor Jim and Debby Riley