“Then behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two,  from top to bottom…”  Matthew 27:51

“Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.  But, the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship in spirit and truth…”  John 4:21,23

…that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul’ or ‘I am of Apollos’.. Is Christ divided, was Paul crucified for you…….”  1 Corinthians 1:12,13

There is a sad and troubling irony happening in our world today.  We say that we celebrate diversity; that is we celebrate our differences or that we are different as a way of coming together.  However, what we do is a horrifically wonderful job of describing our differences and why they matter; but a terribly inadequate job of the coming together part, of melding those differences together as one.  What do I mean?  We have all kinds of movements; movements based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and yes, unfortunately, even within Christianity.  We partition ourselves based on our political beliefs, we draw our voting districts in such a way that only one party can dominate.  Too often, whomever populates the boundaries of a particular partition feel so threatened and disenfranchised that they feel they must scream loud and long to be heard but can not risk taking the time to hear the responses.  Our ultimate goal in this process is to make our partition the largest, loudest, most powerful allowing us to rightly, as we judge rightly, rule the world.

While this is not a new phenomenon, I believe Jesus Christ shows us that is not the way it is intended to be.  One of the most pronounced and unbreakable partitions in Jewish practice was the veil that separated the outer chamber and the rest of the temple from the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant, containing the stone tablets of the ten commandments plus the golden container of manna and also where Aaron’s staff that budded were kept.  The only person who could enter the Holy of Holies was the High Priest and then he could only enter once a year and only with the blood of sacrifice.  This was the place where God’s Spirit came to be when He came to the temple. Thus at any one time all were separated from the presence of Almighty God because of their sin except for one human being, the High Priest, who himself could only enter once a year and only then with the sacrifice of blood for the atonement of sins.

Yet in God’s plan, that separation was not to last.  God did not want that for eternity, we would be kept from His presence by our sin.  Our Heavenly Father, in His ultimate mercy, did not want to partition us off.  Though with our sinful nature, how could He possibly allow us into his presence?  He had to have One, whose sacrifice would pay the price for all eternity for every sin.  One, who was so perfect, so unblemished that His blood would forever wash away the stain of the sins of those who believed on Him and wanted to come through Him into the presence of the Father.  Jesus Christ was that One perfect sacrifice.  Thus upon His death, the spilling of His blood, He forever tore the veil, destroyed the partition that separates us from our Heavenly Father.

Jesus Christ also wanted to tear down the partition of coming to the Father for all people, including genders.  That is what He was explaining to the woman from Samaria at the well.  First that Jesus was even speaking to her was breaking down a partition.  Women were not to be spoken to by men especially if no other man was around to supervise the conversation.  Yet Jesus, a Jewish man no less, was stooping low enough to have a conversation with a woman and a Samaritan woman at that!  Her people worshipped on a mountain where a temple had been built in the past, the Jews said the only true place to worship was the temple in Jerusalem.  Jesus takes the time to speak directly to her and teach her as well about what true worship is because He has come into the world to be our living water.  Through Jesus Christ there is no longer the need to have the partition of gender, nor of worship differences like location.  All true believers will worship in spirit and in truth as Our Heavenly Father desires.

Finally, Paul is dealing with a partition that we face within Christendom today.  The partition within our own faith.  Today we call them denominations or such things as nondenominational versus denominational and many more partition exist.  Throughout the first century new churches were being established in different locations and even in the Book of Revelation, Jesus Christ speaks of and to different churches.  So Paul hears concerning the faith in Corinth is starting to fracture, to divide into partitions, some for Paul, some for Apollos.  Paul is very grieved by this and gives a rather scathing rebuke.  He reminds them that there is only one allegiance, only One who sacrificed, only One who brings salvation, that is Jesus Christ.  Thus it is to Jesus Christ and His gospel where our loyalty needs to be above all else.

I belong to a denominational church.  Yet I travel considerably and I find that I find wonderful blessings when I attend other denominational or nondenominational churches when I’m away.  I cringe when I hear one denomination or leader railing against another Christian group, especially over some human made doctrine or point.  Paul winds up the argument in this way; when humans seem wise on their own account, they are foolish and made to seem foolish in the Eyes of God.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, we are different.  When we combine those differences together under the tent of Jesus Christ and His teachings then our differences combine for a beautiful portrait of togetherness.  We would be wise to remember Christs teaching that while we might be different branches, the only way we thrive, they we don’t wither and die is to be attached to, to grow from the One Vine, who is Jesus Christ, Lord of lord’s and King of kings.  Let us tear down the partitions which divide us and strive to never build any new in their places.  Let us be one in the Father, through the One Son, Jesus Christ.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, You God are One.  Even in the eternal mystery of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, we know You to Speak with one voice.  As You are One, help us, Your children to be one as well.  Let us look at ways to combine our talents to bring our differences together to uplift each other.  Forgive us, Most Merciful Father, when we instead cling to our differences to built partitions to block us from seeing the needs and helping our brothers and sisters.  Pour Out Your Spirit upon us so that it would wash away all partitions between us and bring us together, living through the one and only Living Water which comes from You.  This we pray in the name of He who gave Himself as the One Holy and Sufficient Sacrifice to forever destroy the partition between we the created and You the Creator, Jesus Christ.  Amen