your love flows from the heart of God,
and touches us in our points of pain;
hearing your voice,
may we find healing in your word
now and for ever. Amen.
Eliminating boundaries does not in itself create peace. Peace comes only by eliminating the hostility behind the dividing walls. God does not merely tear down walls, but unites people in the One who is our peace, creating one new humanity. — Karen Chakoian, in Feasting on the Word, Year B, Vol. 3, Kindle ed’n, loc. 9130
There’s a saying: Good fences make good neighbours. And I can believe it.
But I’m not so sure about walls.
History is filled with stories of walls, and littered by the remains of walls. Perhaps the earliest walls we know about were around the city of Jericho. We know what happened to them.
Or if they don’t fall, they are remnants of an earlier time. Perhaps you’ve walked along the top of the walls of York or Jerusalem, as I have. Or along the Great Wall of China, or Hadrian’s Wall across the North of England, as I’d like to.
Once, these walls served to keep undesirable people out. They were walls of separation. They have a very different purpose now. They’re tourist traps, bringing the outsiders in rather than keeping them out.
Walls fall, whether literally or not.
I don’t remember the Berlin Wall being built, but as a child I expected it to last forever. I recall watching tv news reports of people escaping over or under it to the West, or dying in the attempt.
But in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down.
Walls may fall because their day is done, because they crumble to dust; but walls fall too because people cry out against them. We saw that very clearly in Berlin in 1989. The Wall could not withstand the weight of protest.
Walls may have their time, but that time ends.
About 500 years before the birth of Christ, the Jewish people were in exile in Babylon. When they returned to Jerusalem, one of the first things they did was build a wall and throw all the foreigners out.
In an age of technological sophistication, walls are less useful.
But we still build them.
When I visited the Holy Land a few years ago, I was saddened to see the wall that separates Jerusalem from Bethlehem.