Breaking Down Walls

Greetings, dear friends in Christ! 

On Nov. 9, 2019, the world will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As we look back to remember this important moment in human history, we are reminded that there is much work to be done to tear down the walls that divide us today. Galatians 3:28 reminds us that in Christ all that separates and divides us no longer holds sway over us. There is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female — all are made one in Christ Jesus. In him the walls we have built are brought down so that we might see each other as siblings, each made in the image of God. 

My friends, I encourage you, your congregations and your communities to join together in proclaiming this truth — that we are one human family. Just as tens of thousands of people gathered in nonviolent protest in the streets of Leipzig, Germany, in the “Peaceful Revolution” of 1989, so, too, are we called in this moment to advocate for an end to division and oppression in our own communities and throughout the world. This is a significant moment in our denominational history, as the ELCA recently declared itself a sanctuary church body at the 2019 Churchwide Assembly. This is a moment for breaking down walls.

Here you will find an array of resources that we hope will assist your community of faith in remembering those who have helped bring down walls in the past and those seeking just and peaceful ways to bring down the walls in our midst today.

Included as part of these resources is a special liturgy that I hope you’ll use in your own candlelight vigil or service of remembrance this fall. The liturgy is patterned after the weekly prayer services that were held at St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, Germany, during the Cold War, services that many believe helped topple the Berlin Wall and end the war itself. 

As we gather to celebrate this Peaceful Revolution — and its Lutheran roots — let us pray for and advocate on behalf of those divided and oppressed by other walls. Let us hold in prayer the people of Palestine, those on the U.S.-Mexico border, and all places where we build barriers, in our communities and in our hearts. Come, Holy Spirit, lead us to unity and peace. 

Pax,
The Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla
ELCA Executive Director for Global Mission