One of the clear themes of the book of Ephesians is the inclusion of all persons in the love of God. This is clearly stated in Ephesians 1:13-14: “You who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.… He has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” This message of the universal love of God in Jesus Christ is the highlight of today’s focal passage as proclaimed in 3:6, “Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Jesus Christ through the gospel.” The salvation of God is now offered to all; the gift of Christ is a gift offered for all humankind.
The proclamation of God’s love for all humankind, for Jew and gentile alike, is demonstrated throughout the birth narratives of Jesus Christ. This theme is seen in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1:1-16 where 3 Gentile women, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, are named as ancestors of Christ. The birth of Christ takes place in Bethlehem because of a census ordered by the Roman government. The story of the wise men who paid homage to the baby Jesus is clearly a story of gentiles from an eastern nation far from the land of Israel. When Joseph comes to fear that Herod is out to kill the young baby Jesus, he takes his family to the land of Egypt where they are literally refugees on the run. The birth story as told by Matthew is clearly emphasizing the universal scope of the Christian message. The birth of Jesus Christ is played out on a stage encompassing the whole world.
As we celebrate the coming of Christ let us also celebrate the coming of Christ’s love to all persons; the Christmas story is good news for all humankind.
Prayer: O Lord, make our love for others as boundless and inclusive as your love for all humankind. May Christ be born again in us during this Christmas season so that we may see others, all others, as persons beloved by you. Amen.
Thomas H. Graves