Today we’ll talk about walls.
Who recognises these photos?
The Great Wall of China.
Hadrian’s Wall in England, built by the Romans.
The Berlin Wall.
The “Peace wall” in Belfast, Ireland.
Walls cutting cities in two
So many walls that separate people.
Borders and barriers that cut up the world.
They show that something is badly wrong.
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, tells us what happened.
It all started when people disobeyed God, turned away from him, did wrong things.
The Bible calls this sin.
A barrier of sin went up between us and God.
It was the first relationship breakup.
Then came the first fight:
a husband blamed his wife for what went wrong – sound familiar?
Then came the first weapon: a sword,
to guard the first closed border that shut people out.
Then came the first murder when a man killed his brother.
Soon people were divided by different languages and cultures.
And they couldn’t understand each other any more.
Ever since, we have been building walls.
Walls of concrete and barbed wire, steel and stone.
Walls of fear and misunderstanding and anger and hatred.
Borders and barriers and boundaries
that shut people out or lock them in.
We can see with our eyes the physical walls that divide people.
We can’t so often see the worst wall, the first wall,
the barrier of sin between us and God.
In Bible times, in a way you could.
Jerusalem had a temple where people worshipped God.
In the middle was a room called the Holy of Holies.
Here was the presence of God.
It was behind a thick heavy curtain.
Only one person could go inside, only one time a year.
The curtain was a visible sign of the wall that cuts us off from God.
Outside, there was a series of walls.
First, an area for the priests.
Outside that, a place for Jewish men.
Further out an area for Jewish women.
Then a few steps down, far off, an outer area for non-Jews.
It was separated from Jewish areas by a stone wall, about 1.5 m high.
On it were signs that said:
“No one from another race is to enter within the fence around the Temple.
Whoever is caught will have only himself to thank for his death.” 
It’s almost a picture of our world today.
A curtain cuts us from God.
And walls separate people:
barriers between different religions and races and skin colours, men and women.
It’s an ugly picture.
The Peaceable Kingdom
The Bible also paints a beautiful picture:
A world of safety without fear.
Peace without war.
Love without hate.
A world without walls.
The prophet Isaiah says:
The Lord will make peace between nations
and will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
nor train for war anymore.
The United Nations often fails – look at Syria.
When we try to make peace,
it can even make things worse.
One day, God will do what the UN cannot.
He will bring lasting peace.
He will bring reconciliation:
restoring good relations, turning enemies into friends.
In that day,
The boots of the warrior
and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
No more armies, no more fighting, no more violence, no more war.
Even wild animals won’t be dangerous any more:
In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together…
The baby will play safely near the hole of a snake….
Nothing will hurt or destroy.
Isaiah 11:6-9 
Isn’t that a beautiful picture?
When will this wonderful time come?
Isaiah says it won’t come through any human efforts,
The peaceful kingdom will only come
when God sends a special, good and fair and peaceful King.
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us….
And he will be called…
Prince of Peace.
We sing about the birth of this baby King, Jesus, at Christmas.
At Easter, we remember what he did to bring reconciliation.
To bring us lasting peace
On Good Friday, Jesus was nailed to the cross.
He suffered for hours before he died.
Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.
And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
The curtain stood for everything between us and God.
Every lie I tell or angry word I say makes that curtain thicker.
Every bad or unkind thing I do makes it stronger.
Maybe we’ve pulled at the edge of that curtain.
tried to get through to God.
But we can’t: it’s too heavy and strong and thick.
When those nails were hammered through Jesus’ dying hands,
God reached down with his mighty hands.
He grabbed that curtain and ripped it right in two.
All the way from top to bottom.
He broke down the barrier of sin that stood between us and God.
Now we can all go into the holy of holies.
Into God’s presence.
Here is how Paul in the Bible put it:
We have peace with God… Our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies… So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God.
Romans 5:1,10-11 
That’s a definition of reconciliation!
We had rejected God and become his enemies.
But on the cross, Jesus made peace.
He made us God’s friends.
That’s the gospel, the good news of Easter.
I should really say.
That’s half the gospel, the first stage of reconciliation in Christ.
Let’s learn about the next stage in another letter by Paul:
For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
Ephesians 2:14-16 page 896
Have you heard this before?
Last week we read it in English and Chinese and Japanese and Korean!
That was appropriate, because Paul is talking about racial reconciliation.
Back then, Jews were proud of all their religious laws and commands.
They looked down on Gentiles, people of other races and religions.
In fact they had a prayer, “God, I thank you that I am not a dog or a Gentile”. 
There was a wall of hostility and hatred between them.
Like that physical stone wall in the Temple.
Paul is saying.
That wall has been broken down.
He carries on:
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.
Some of you know about being a foreigner.
Maybe you had culture shock when you came to New Zealand.
Things seemed strange, you didn’t belong.
Maybe you felt you weren’t wanted.
Some of you are trying to get permanent residence here.
It can take a long time.
Paul says that God has already given us all PR, for free.
We don’t have to wait!
No matter who you are, you are wanted.
You belong in God’s family.
Some countries may not give you a Visa,
but we can all be full citizens of heaven!
In another place, Paul writes
There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female.
For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
You might have been brought up to look down on others.
Maybe you’ve been told that people from that country or that religion or that part of town –
They are bad!
But in Jesus Christ,
all those walls, like in the Temple, are gone. 
No more barriers between Jew and Gentile, Maori and Pakeha,
no more division between China and Japan, North and South Korea.
No more separation between rich and poor people, bank managers and beggars.
No more walls between men and woman, old and young, sisters and brothers. 
Yes, the Bible gives us a big picture of reconciliation.
It’s like a cross: it has two beams of wood.
One is vertical, from heaven to earth.
That shows how Jesus reconciled us to God.
The other beam is horizontal, arms stretching out to embrace the world.
It shows how Jesus reconciles us to each other.
You can’t have one without the other – it wouldn’t be a cross.
Peace with God, peace with each other.
Vertical and horizontal harmony.
That’s the good news of Easter!
The Beloved Community: Martin Luther King and Desmond Tutu
That sounds good, doesn’t it?
But some of you might be thinking,
David, get out of the library and read the paper, watch the TV news.
Where in the world is this reconciliation?
Look at Syria, Sudan, Ukraine, North Korea.
Look at the punch-up in the pub down the road last night.
Wake up and smell the tear gas.
Yes, I know.
Sometimes I find it hard to believe that God is active in this world.
It can seem like Jesus has made no difference.
Maybe war and hatred and violence will win.
The wolf won’t lie down with the lamb; it will kill the dove.
Do you feel like that sometimes?
Let me share something that gives me hope.
That shows me the teaching of Jesus, and what happened at Easter.
Still have power for good today.
A few decades ago.
The USA had terrible walls between people.
So did South Africa. They were very racist.
I googled “whites only” and I found these horrible signs:
people with black skin must drink from one fountain and use one toilet,
whites have better ones.
No Spanish or Mexicans allowed in this restaurant.
No Africans or Indians on this beach.
Negroes can’t go to this school or use this taxi.
And can only sit at the back of this bus.
When I saw these pictures, I was shocked.
Imagine if your whole life was lived inside those walls.
What did black people do?
Some gave up and accepted it.
Some wanted to attack and kill whites.
Others found a third way.
Let’s meet two of them.
Two of my heroes.
Both of them loved that verse we’ve just read:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, black nor white.
No matter what colour your skin is,
All are one in Christ Jesus.
Both of them knew Paul’s words in Ephesians.
On the cross, Christ broke down the wall of hostility that divided people.
So they knew that apartheid and racial division was wrong.
“Segregation is a denial of the unity which we have in Jesus Christ.” (King)
They also knew something else.
If you fight evil with evil, you will become evil yourself.
If I repay violence with violence, things will only get worse.
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”
(Gandhi – maybe )
They could not accept these evil racist laws.
They could not fight it with violence.
So what could they do?
From Jesus, Martin Luther King and Desmond Tutu learnt another way to fight evil.
Let’s read what Jesus taught:
But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.
Luke 6:27-29 page 786
Love your enemies, do good to them, bless them, pray for them.
Jesus didn’t just talk about this.
At Easter, he did it.
They nailed him to the cross….
Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
King and Tutu followed Jesus’ teaching and example.
They fought white prejudice but they loved white people.
They peacefully resisted the unfair laws.
On 30 January 1956, a bomb exploded in Martin Luther King’s house.
His wife has just had his first daughter: two months old.
They were at home.
They were okay, but crowds of his supporters came.
The white police were rough and rude.
Some black people had guns and wanted to use them.
It looked very bad.
Martin Luther King stood on his front porch and he said to the crowd:
We must meet violence with non-violence… We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us… Jesus still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: “Love your enemies; bless them that curse you.” This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love…
This is the way of Christ; it is the way of the cross. We must somehow believe that unearned suffering is redemptive. 
Redemptive means it can bring healing.
The crowd became calm and went home peacefully.
Over in South Africa, Desmond Tutu said.
I cannot hate that white police officer who is beating me.
He is my brother.
Because he and I were both baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.
I find that amazing.
He really understood Paul’s words:
Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles,some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:13 
You see, King and Tutu didn’t just want to change laws, but to change hearts.
To bring black and white together into one new people, as Paul wrote.
Martin Luther King said:
Our goal is redemption.
Our goal is reconciliation.
Our goal is the creation of the beloved community. 
Desmond Tutu used to say to crowds in South Africa,
“Lift up your hands!
Look at all the colours together!
It’s the rainbow people of God.”
That’s the vision of Isaiah and Paul.
That’s the work of Jesus on the cross.
It was hard for King and Tutu to fight racist injustice.
Hard to keep going when they were attacked and put in prison
What gave them strength?
They kept their eyes on Easter.
Martin Luther King said the cross is
the great event that stands at the centre of our faith which reveals to us that God is on the side of truth and love and justice. 
No matter how dark things looked, he had hope.
He heard the “triumph and beat of the drums of Easter”.
When Jesus rose from the dead.
Desmond Tutu said,
The death and resurrection of Jesus puts the issue beyond doubt: ultimately goodness and laughter and peace and compassion and gentleness and forgiveness and reconciliation will have the last word.
And he sometimes said to his enemies,
We are being nice to you. Join the winning side! 
At last, they did win.
As for Jesus, it cost King his life.
He was shot in 1968, only 39 years old.
But the racist laws in America were gone.
In South Africa, apartheid ended in the early 1990s.
And Tutu had a new job: he led the TRC, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 
It tried to heal the past, so South Africa could move forward.
People could confess the terrible things they had done,
not be punished, and hopefully be forgiven.
Every session opened with prayer.
There were amazing scenes of reconciliation.
One mother shook hands with the men who killed her daughter and said:
“I do forgive you because my High Command demonstrated to me how to do that by forgiving his killers”
To read stories like that,
and learn how Jesus has changed history,
I recommend Desmond Tutu’s
1999 book about the TRC,
“No Future without Forgiveness” 
People like King and Tutu
show me that the way of Jesus,
the way of the cross.
Can still change the world today.
Those countries still have problems,
But big walls were broken down with very little violence. 
King and Tutu encourage me.
They also challenge me, they frighten me a bit.
If I was beaten up in prison,
Could I keep on loving?
I’m scared of dogs – I don’t think I could handle police dogs attacking me.
Most of us won’t experience that.
But King and Tutu say
Peace and reconciliation are a way of life, that begins in daily life.
Think of your workplace, or your class at school, or even here at church.
Is there someone you don’t get along with?
When you see them, there’s a little wall in your heart.
Maybe that person seems strange or unfriendly.
Maybe you never talk to him or her.
Walls are bad, so what can we do?
In 1957, Martin Luther King preached a sermon, “Loving Your Enemies”. 
He gave three suggestions.
One: take a look at yourself.
Have you done something to cause offence?
Two: look at that person and discover the good in them.
Three: when you have a chance to defeat them, to put them down, to say something bad,
Do not do it.
Overall, ask God to bring love and reconciliation.
God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
For some of us, the hardest place to work for peace, the biggest walls,
are in our own family.
My father was a wonderful man.
I loved him very much.
But he didn’t show much emotion.
He found it hard to say “I love you”.
In later years, I learnt to give Dad a hug and say I loved him.
I’m so glad that happened before he died.
Some of you may be similar.
You might not be close to your father or someone in your family.
Some cultures make it harder.
These are also walls that Jesus wants to break down.
Ambassadors of the Dream
Today we’ve seen that
God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.
2 Corinthians 5:19
Do you know this reconciliation?
Have you found peace with God?
Once we have, God gives us a job:
And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors …
God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
An ambassador represents his country overseas.
God wants us to take his message of reconciliation to the world.
To tell people about forgiveness in Jesus.
breaking down the walls between us and God.
He wants us to love each other, even our enemies.
breaking down the walls that divide people.
Vertical and horizontal reconciliation.
Like the two beams of the cross.
Paul had a dream of all peoples, all things, united together as one in Jesus.
Martin Luther King shared the same vision in his most famous speech. 
In Washington DC in 1963, he said “I Have a Dream” of
that day when all of God’s children – black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants – will be able to join hands and to sing… “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” 
Desmond Tutu picked this up
and wrote a book, “God Has a Dream”
of love and forgiveness and reconciliation.
What are you and I doing to make that dream a reality in this world?
It starts with vertical reconciliation: finding personal peace with God.
Then comes horizontal reconciliation:
We can work for reconciliation in our own relationships.
We can pray for each other and the world.
Third, some of you may also have been inspired by King and Tutu.
You might want to read more about them or other peacemakers like Gandhi.
Many organisations are working to break down walls and bring reconciliation today.
The websites in the footnote are good resources to learn more 
The writer sees the dream of Isaiah and Paul and King and Tutu come true.
All peoples are worshipping God together.
They are thanking Jesus for all he did at Easter.
Forgiving all our sin.
Bringing peace with God.
Breaking down every wall.
Reconciling all enemies.
I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of God’s throne…
Whatever country you’re from, you can be there.
Whatever language you speak, God wants you there.
And they sang,
“Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks
belong to our God for ever! Amen.”
What are some walls that divide people?
What is your dream for the world?
– What is the Bible’s dream?
How did Jesus break down barriers?
Is there a curtain between you and God?
– How can we become God’s friends?
Is there a wall between you and someone else?
– How could you bring reconciliation?
 See great pics of the graffiti at http://travelingliz.com/2011/11/oh-little-town-of-bethleham.html.
 See article and photos on the DMZ, and other world walls. See an Abrahamic Prayer Of Forgiveness and Healing at the DMZ
 Not “Trespassers will be prosecuted”, but “Trespassers will be executed”! Some Jews wanted to kill Paul because they thought he’d taken a Gentile into the Temple (Acts 22:27-31)
 For thousands of years, Israel had two big neighbours. Egypt to the south-west, and another big empire to the North – Assyria in this passage. These two big countries were enemies, always fighting. Poor little Israel was crushed in the middle. But God promises:
In that day Egypt and Assyria will be connected by a highway. The Egyptians and Assyrians will move freely between their lands, and they will both worship God. And Israel will be their ally. The three will be together, and Israel will be a blessing to them. For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will say, “Blessed be Egypt, my people. Blessed be Assyria, the land I have made. Blessed be Israel, my special possession!” Isaiah 19:23-25
Egypt is still there today. Assyria is the region of Iran and Iraq. Imagine that: Egypt, Iran and Israel will worship God together, all in God’s family.
Think of all the fighting in the past between China and Japan, on either side of Korea. One day, Chinese and Japanese and Korean will hold hands and worship God together. Maybe standing where the DMZ is now.
 A Christian artist in America Edward Hicks painted over 60 versions of these verses. He called these pictures “The Peaceable Kingdom”. Some people want to make the Korea DMZ into a nature reserve for endangered animals – several rare species have already found refuge there.
 When he was asked, “What is your favorite Bible verse and why?”, Tutu answered:
Romans 5:8. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It sums up the Gospel wonderfully. We think we have to impress God so that God could love us. But he says, “No, you are loved already, even at your worst.”
 Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13. see also Colossians 1:21-22
 Sometimes Jewish parents held a funeral if their child married a Gentile.
 The Jerusalem Temple will be “a house of prayer for all the nations.” (Isaiah 56:7)
 “Jesus would die for the entire nation. And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.” (John 11:51-52) The night before he died, Jesus prayed that all believers would be one, as he and the Father are one (John 17:21).
 In fact, Jesus said people should seek reconciliation with others before they come and worship God in the Temple (Matthew 5:23-24).
 Martin Luther King said: “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
 For an outline of his thought on nonviolent activism and the beloved community, see “The King Philosophy” at http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy.
 You can read more about his life and work at The Desmond Tutu Peace Centre.
 Of the piano, Martin Luther King said: “Everybody, from a treble white to a bass black, is significant on God’s keyboard.”
 Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, said “Even if we lose, we shall win, for our ideals will have penetrated the heart of our enemies.” That’s one of the most frightening quotes I’ve heard.
 they believed that only the way of the cross could heal society, only nonviolence break the spiral chain of evil, because it is “a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding” (King).
 Until now, King kept a loaded gun in case armed revolt was necessary. Now he got rid of it and preached, “Always be sure that you struggle with Christian methods… Use only the weapon of love”.
“We will meet your physical force with soul force. We will not hate you. Do to us what you will. We will still love you.”
 In March that year, King was taken to court and unfairly condemned. His black followers sat quietly in the courtroom. On their coats they had crosses that read “Father Forgive Them”.
 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit… one glorious hope… one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father. (Ephesians 4:3-6)
 “We are tied together in a single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality” (King)
 “The aftermath of violence is always bitterness; the aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community so that when the battle is over, it’s over, and a new love and a new understanding and a new relationship comes into being between the oppressed and the oppressor.” (King)
 “At home in South Africa I have sometimes said in big meetings where you have black and white together: ‘Raise your hands!’ Then I have said: ‘Move your hands,’ and I’ve said ‘Look at your hands – different colors representing different people. You are the Rainbow People of God.’” (Tutu)
 King said:
There are some who still find the cross a stumbling block, and others consider it foolishness, but I am more convinced than ever before that it is the power of God unto social and individual salvation. So like the Apostle Paul I can now humbly yet proudly say, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” (Galatians 6:17) The suffering and agonizing moments through which I have passed over the last few years have also drawn me closer to God. More than ever before I am convinced of the reality of a personal God.
 “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” (King)
 “Christians would say the outcome is not in question. The death and resurrection of Jesus puts the issue beyond doubt: ultimately goodness and laughter and peace and compassion and gentleness and forgiveness and reconciliation will have the last word. The victory over apartheid was proof positive of the truth of this seemingly utopian dream.” (No Future without Forgiveness)
 South Korea formed its own TRC in 2005. See wikipedia entry and the official website.
 The last chapter is especially good, “Without Forgiveness There Really Is No Future.”
“Forgiving means abandoning your right to pay back the perpetrator in his own coin, but it is a loss that liberates the victim.”
There is a movement, not easily discernible, at the heart of things to reverse the awful centrifugal force of alienation, brokenness, division, hostility and disharmony. God has set in motion a centripetal process, a moving toward the Centre, toward unity, harmony, goodness, peace, and justice; one that removes barriers. Jesus says, ‘And when I am lifted up from the earth I shall draw everyone to myself’ (John 12:32) as he hangs from His cross with out-flung arms, thrown out to clasp all, everyone and everything, in a cosmic embrace, so that all, everyone, everything, belongs. None is an outsider, all are insiders, all belong. There are no aliens, all belong in the one family, God’s family, the human family. There is no longer Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free… It was God’s intention to bring all things in heaven and on earth to a unity in Christ, and each of us participates in this grand movement (p. 265)
 It was like that when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Many Communist countries became free. Churches praying and peacefully marching played a big part.
 King asked his followers, “Can you accept blows without retaliation?” In Walter Wink’s words, “draw the sting of evil by absorbing it in our own bodies.”
 It’s a good sermon. How and why we should love our enemies, on a personal and international level. You can read it here.
 A later nonviolent activist, Dolphus Weary, said, “it doesn’t matter what kind of label we give people, when Jesus said that it’s finished on the cross, he meant that every label has been removed.”
 Through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. Colossians 1:20
 On 28 August 1963 in Washington DC.
 King quotes the song:
In Christ there is no east or west,
In Him no north or south,
But one great brotherhood of love
Throughout the whole wide world.
 This family has no outsiders. Everyone is an insider. When Jesus said, “I, if I am lifted up, will draw…” Did he say, “I will draw some”? “I will draw some, and tough luck for the others”? He said, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all.” All! All! All! – Black, white, yellow; rich, poor; clever, not so clever; beautiful, not so beautiful. All! All! It is radical. All! Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Bush – all! All! All are to be held in this incredible embrace. (Tutu)
 Read about Nobel Peace Prize recipients at www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace.
 For example, see Christian Peacemaker Teams “Building partnerships to transform violence and oppression” at www.cpt.org, the Fellowship of Reconciliation “Working for peace, justice and nonviolence since 1915” at www.ifor.org and http://forusa.org, Pax Christi “the international Catholic peace movement” at www.paxchristi.net and paxchristi.org.uk, Sojourners “Faith in action for social justice” at sojo.net.