No Stars Upon Thars – Ephesians 2:11-22

PastorSteveDr. Seuss, in his wonderful book, “The Sneetches,” tells the story of two groups of creatures that were identical with the exception of one little thing: half of them had stars on their bellies. “Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small.
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.”

But it did matter. The star-bellied Sneetches concluded that the stars made them superior to the plain-bellied Sneetches. They didn’t socialize with their plain-bellied cousins and walked around with their noses in the air. They taught their children to avoid plain-bellies, exclude them from games, and thus the difference gained cultural and historical credence.

And then came Sylvester McMonkey McBean. He had invented a machine that, for a price, could imprint the plain-bellies with a star. One group of Sneetches still felt that they were superior to the other, but it was no longer possible to tell which Sneetch was which. To add to the confusion, McBean reversed his machine so that it would remove the stars from the star-bellies.

He exploited his machine – adding stars and removing stars – until the Sneetches had spent all of their money. The he packed up his machine and drove off, gleefully proclaiming, “You can’t teach a Sneetch.”

Dividing walls were nothing new among the first Jesus followers. Those who grew up with the temple in Jerusalem as the primary sign of their faith and culture knew all about them. Something like concentric rectangles, moving inward from the gates there was an area where just about anybody could be, an area only for Jews, and area only for male Jews finally ending up in the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could go, and he only twice a year.

The early church knew all about dividing walls. Jew/Gentile, clean/unclean, male/female, citizen/alien. It made things orderly; you knew where you belonged and more importantly you knew whom to exclude. The early church had already blurred some of those boundaries; Jews and Gentiles were worshipping together. But of course, even after the walls tumble down, the boundaries still exist. The author of Ephesians refers to the two groups there as the “circumcision” and the “uncircumcision.”

And then he makes a powerful summary of the gospel, “Bun now you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he had made both groups into one and had broken down the dividing wall.” Our unity has nothing to do with our sameness. All of the ways humanity sorts humanity into separate pigeon holes have fallen away. It has nothing to do with uniformity or orthodoxy or politics or culture or national boundaries. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.”

How is a Sylvester McMonkey McBean supposed to make a living now?


Here is the last stanza of “The Sneetches:”

But McBean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say.

That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day.

The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.

And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.

That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether

They had one, or not, upon thars.