Last Sunday a number of churches from our community came together to celebrate the “Week for Christian Unity.”
The event, which was held at Holy Family Church, was a very simple celebration where choirs and individuals offered musical selections, reading or prayers. People from different points of view came together to celebrate our faith.
This doesn’t happen in other communities. While we like to believe we have come a long way, you can still find lots of division between Catholics and Protestants, between mainstream and independents, and even between different churches within the same denomination.
In the gospel of John we have a wonderful account of Jesus praying for his disciples - both his present and future followers. In John 17:21 Jesus prays that their might be unity among his followers in order for others to come to the faith. This makes good sense to me. Why would anyone want to join in a cause who’s members are constantly bickering, backstabbing and in the midst of conflict? Jesus’ prayer makes good sense. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like we have done much to help his prayer for his church to come to fruition.
Even at our happy event on Sunday night, the reception room told a sad tale. There, the different denominations each scurried to their own separate tables.
Maybe Jesus’ prayer for unity was not just so that we might attract others, but practically speaking for very survival. Many churches are closing, and others struggling. Unless we are willing to see past our differences, move beyond our dogmas and start focussing on those things that unite rather than divide us, we will be in trouble.
Maybe Jesus’ call was wider and louder than any of us ever imagined. Beyond our pews. Beyond our faith circles. Beyond our religion into a wider world of belief.
“I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me. 22 I gave them the same glory you gave me, so that they may be one, just as you and I are one: 23 I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one, in order that the world may know that you sent me and that you love them as you love me.”