Let me share with you an image that stood out to me during a film I watched at my church called "Scared Sacred". It was a graffitied message on the wall dividing the Israelis and the Palestinians - "The Wall Will Fall". Anyone who knows anything about the checkered history of interaction between these two peoples will find this a remarkably rebellious statement. With the situation as it currently stands, one could hardly be blamed for believing that such aspirations are but a mere pipe dream. But then again, in early 1989 the then East German leader Erich Honecker predicted that the Berlin Wall would stand for "a hundred more years". Less than one year later, the Berlin Wall and the East German government came crashing down. I believe that the Berlin Wall fell only because there were a small minority of people who resolutely refused to believe in the inevitability of its existence. If and when the wall between Israel and Palestine falls, it will only be because of similar stubbornness.
We live in a world that abounds with walls. There are walls separating countries. There are walls separating people. There are walls separating people from God. Finally, there are walls that we put up to protect us from ourselves. Perhaps the thing that strikes me most about self-imposed walls is that such walls are primarily a defensive measure. Perhaps we are scared of affirming the fullness of our own humanity because we are scared of what we might find. Or perhaps we know that once we allow ourselves to be fully human, we will inevitably be drawn towards making commitments we may find to be onerous. Affirming our humanity may mean that we have to take the concerns and needs of others seriously and actually respond accordingly.
At Space For God (www.spaceforgod.org.au) this Jubilee Sunday (go to www.jubileeaustralia.org for details) we'll have a look at Amos 8:4-7, which looks at the way in which the people in Amos' day chose to wall themselves off from the needs of the poor and oppressed in their society. We'll also have a look at the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10, in which we'll look at the walls that Zacchaeus had imposed upon himself and how by affirming Zacchaeus' humanity, Jesus was able to break down these walls. Here's a few questions that you might like to think about:
(1) What are the walls that exist between myself and others? Between myself and God?
(2) What self-imposed walls have I constructed? Why have I done so?
(3) What can I do to break down the personal walls that I have constructed or that have otherwise been imposed upon me?
(4) How does breaking down these personal walls help to break down the walls of apathy, ignorance and injustice in society?