Test the Best by Birgit Kinder, East Side Gallery, Berlin
It is great seeing some more sunshine today (Friday) and having some reasonable temperatures here in Leiden! Our street is really quiet since many people are away on holiday. As a family, we have just got back ourselves.
We were staying at a village on the outskirts of Berlin. Besides enjoying German cakes, Berlin Zoo, various palaces in Potsdam and a drive into Poland; we visited a number of sites connected with the Berlin Wall. Construction began in August 1961 and along with the border defences separating East Germany from the west, the Berlin Wall divided people for decades. To someone like me growing up, The Wall seemed so permanent and it was like it was almost mission impossible for it to be toppled!
Yet in November 1989 down it came. It symbolised momentous changes and in 1990 Germany was re-unified. Just in time for my beginning to be a school teacher including about History!
Among other memorials, the East Side Gallery on the Spree Riverside seeks to remember realities before the Wall was removed. It does so by having artists from around the world, having parts of a 1.3km stretch of the former wall as a canvas for their ideas. The photo above is from one such section. Personally I love Birgit Kinder’s imagery of the Trabant car breaking through the concrete!
Paul writing to one of the early Christian communities in the colony of Ephesus, paints an image of Christ destroying the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility between people (in the case of what Paul was writing – between Jews and non-Jews). Ultimately it could be said that Paul was writing of the destruction of the barrier between people and God and through Christ how barriers between different people can also be demolished.
How was this made possible? Through the cross. Paul goes onto write that because of what Christ did on the cross, that all those who trust in Christ have ‘access to the Father by one Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:18) and that we are made members of God’s household (2:19) Forgiveness of wrong doing is available, along with a fresh start and reconciliation with God. From this all kinds of reconciliation can flow between people.
There are many walls that need to come tumbling down in this world! In the news we continue to see the destruction and heartache caused by civil conflict in Syria and Iraq. Racial tensions have very much been at the surface in the media with recent shootings in the USA. All kinds of divisions are impacting Venezuela and Turkey is in the aftermath of an attempted coup. In the country I am from originally, there continues to be discord between those who voted on either side of the debate about the EU. These are just some examples on our planet.
My last desire here is to be over-simplistic by having a sound bite approach in saying ‘all this world needs is Jesus!’ There are all kinds of things that need working through in relation to justice, equality, prejudice and misunderstanding. Alongside praying for the world, it is good to ask how can we practically respond to some of the problems both in our communities and in the wider world?
What is one thing for instance you or I could do that we are not doing presently? Please press pause and think for some moments…
Now write down what has come to mind, so you don’t forget!
I am also very aware in writing this reflection, that not everything done by those claiming to follow Christ is good news and can in fact seemingly put more walls up! Yet I hold to the belief that in Christ we can have peace with God and each other. There is real hope in Him.
How do you respond to that? Again why not take some time to reflect?
This coming weekend at Vlietland (a local lake) four people from ICL will be baptised. They are from four different countries, in fact four different continents. Living examples of the dividing wall of hostility coming down!