Tag Archives: separation

Breaking Down Barriers

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 8, 2018

Philemon title, bible

Breaking Down Barriers

There are many separations or barriers between people today. Barriers of race, gender, color, class, birth, finances, status. Another way of looking at it is right side/wrong side of the tracks, rich/poor, have/have-not. Much less in terms of language(s) spoken, dialect or accent, educated or uneducated. What are we to do? What was Paul to do?

From what I could tell from some reading about Paul and his time and culture, Paul knew very well about these different kinds of cultural statuses and society structures. Sometimes, he would uphold them, and sometimes not. (I apologize beforehand to all Pauline scholars who may read this, and correct me. I fully enjoy learning more! So, please, let me know if I am mistaken.)

Prof. Williams talks about exactly this fact in one of his short chapters in Meeting God in Paul, starting with the mountain of a verse from Galatians 3:28, “There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and free man, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” “Here is Paul saying that there is something you can belong to in which all these different kinds of status are completely immaterial.” [1] Wow. What a statement for Paul to make, given the fairly strict rules and mores of his society. There was a little latitude and wiggle room, but not very much.

Reading this chapter of Williams’ little book, I was struck by the little book (actually, personal letter) of the apostle Paul to Philemon. Paul had obviously been friends with Philemon before, and was communicating long-distance. Philemon’s runaway slave Onesimus had become acquainted with Paul in the distant town, and—by Paul’s own account—was now like a son to Paul. Now, Paul was writing to Philemon on Onesimus’s behalf: “11 At one time he was of no use to you, but now he is useful[b] both to you and to me.” (And, yes, I think Paul loved the word-play—“Onesimus” meant “useful.”)

Paul was breaking down barriers. Jesus broke down barriers, too. And, much more so than Paul. How marvelous that Jesus just plain disregarded societal structures and barriers, and welcomed everyone. We see Paul striving to do the same thing. His statement in Galatians 3 (as well as a similar one in Colossians 3) shows us that he is striving toward welcoming all, no matter what.

Dear God, thank You for Your extravagant welcome, breaking down all barriers.



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 29.

In Wonder at the Bishop’s Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, October 6, 2015


In Wonder at the Bishop’s Prayer

I love the written word. I love reading books and writings written centuries ago. Alas, I’m afraid I am less than learned, since I only know English (and modern English, at that). Thankfully for me, many of the books, texts and other writings from centuries long ago have been translated into modern English.

Why did this come up? Today’s prayer is about Blessing and Thanksgiving. The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns ““Hallowed be Thy Name” (Prayer 172, page 64) [1] And, this selection is one of the oldest I’ve come across yet. It’s from the Christian prayer “Bishop Serapion’s Prayer of Oblation,” dated from the 4th century.

I could talk about the background I found out concerning this bishop of Thmuis in lower Egypt, how he was a friend of St. Athanasius, and how he wrote (or, edited) a Prayer Book, or Sacramentarium. (All of which I found fascinating!) However—I want to dive straight into the prayer of Oblation.

Dear “Father of Jesus Christ,” how awe-inspiring to refer to You as “uncreated, unsearchable, ineffable.” These words make me want to hide my face the way Isaiah did in Isaiah 6. (Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts.)

Dear Lord Jesus, “Only Son,” you “proclaim and explain” Your Heavenly Father to us “created beings.”

Oh, yes. I know that I am only Your creation; I know that full well! And, what is the most earth-shaking thing of all? You “seek reconciliation with all men and draw them all to You by sending Your dear Son to visit them.”

Good God. How on earth am I ever to respond to such a gracious and merciful act? Such a loving and generous gift? Dear Lord, You sent Your dear Son to earth—to us—to visit us. Why? To “seek reconciliation.” To draw us from afar, to heal the pain and separation.

Such knowledge is almost too much for me . . . All I can say is “thank You.” And, praise to Your name. Amen, Lord. Amen.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 64.