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     This Week's Focus: "Getting It Together"
      Click the link for John 17:20-26  


Dear Friends,

This gospel is Christ’s last prayer before his Passion. And what does he pray for? Not for himself. Not even just for his friends. He prays for you and for me, for: those who will believe in (him.) He does not pray for a laundry list of blessings. He simply prays: …that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.

After two-thousand years, Christ’s prayer for unity has yet to be fully answered. But, we’re working on it. In the face of historic doctrinal and organizational differences, the Body of Christ yearns for unity. Jesus foresees it all and prays to the Father. But he also speaks directly to us. As an example to everyone who would claim to follow him, he is giving us his love, knowing he will soon be giving us his life.

Then, as the risen Christ, he continues to give. He sends us the Holy Spirit to shower us with grace. It is through the Holy Spirit that we know God’s purpose for us: We have a mission to unite in his love. Baptized into God’s family, we have been given the power to unite. And in scripture and liturgy, fellowship and outreach, we have been given all the tools that we need to unite. But how are we using these gifts to answer Christ’s prayer? What are we doing to be one with each other and one with the Father and the Son?

In our search for unity, let’s eliminate one place where it won’t be found.  We won’t find it in coercive, sectarian conformity. That’s the antithesis of love. And only love can bring us together. That love is not a collective abstraction. It is an individual reality, created by individual commitment to live in the love of Christ. John tells us: They will know we are Christians by our love. It is love in every form, at every opportunity, despite every obstacle, that draws us together. And through the power of the Holy Spirit, our commitment to love draws us into union with the Father and the Son.

A quick Google search indicated that there are 2.2 billion Christians in 33,000 different denominations spread over the world’s 238 countries. While all profess to be following in the footsteps of Christ, we all diverge with major and minor differences in doctrine, governance, and structure. And this diversity does not include the fissures which constantly occur within denominations and even individual congregations.

All of this has been counterbalanced by a number of promising ecumenical initiatives. But it appears safe to say that this side of heaven, without decisive divine intervention, Christian unity will not be accomplished through a single eruption of love. Rather, it will be accomplished day by day through individual acts of love, ranging from the most demanding to the most casual. From forgiveness to compassion, to respect, to patience, to generosity, to kindness, to thoughtfulness, to hospitality, to merely good manners… when rendered in Christ’s name, they unite us in his love.

As denominations, as congregations, as individual Christians, we are not drawn together to satisfy some primal herd instinct. We are drawn together to fulfill God’s purpose for us. And in this case, the ends and the means are identical. We were made by love. We were made to love. We are saved by love. It is what draws us to Jesus. It is what ties us to the Father. It gives direction to our lives. It gives meaning to our death. Christ’s love will spread, but only if we spread it. Today, every task, every encounter is an opportunity to love, to draw closer to Christ, to witness his love, to answer his prayer… to get it together… that they may all be one.

Alleluia! He is risen.

 


 

A Reflection for 
The Seventh Sunday of Easter
©The Reverend Canon David F. Sellery

 
Copyright © 2019 David Sellery, All rights reserved.


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