Today, in worship, we are blessed to have Rev. Clint Mooney with us to offer us his insights into Christian unity (that almost sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?). Clint has been devoted to the cause of Christian unity for all of his life as a minister. He serves on many ecumenical councils that are focused on reminding us of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe (John 17:21).
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (from January 18th to 25th this year) earmarks the efforts of the World Council of Churches to invite Christian faith communities to celebrate unity in prayer services and special gatherings. The World Council of Churches is the broadest and most inclusive organization devoted to Christian unity. The Council brings together churches, denominations and circles of Christians in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing 500 million Christians around the world. For its member churches, the WCC is a unique space, one in which they can reflect, speak, act, worship and work together, challenging and supporting each other, sharing and respectfully debating with each other.
I personally have longed for a sense of unity among us. The often petty doctrinal differences that divide us are a vexation to my spirit. There always seems to be an air of judgement among Christians. How many faith communities have you been a part of that proclaim they are the “right” path to God and the rest of us are damned to hell. God must be greatly grieved by all of this, don’t you think, especially since God is the Creator of such beautiful diversity in the first place. I believe that Jesus expects us to build bridges to each other—everyday and in everyway.
When we stay in dialogue with each other as Christian faith communities, with a true desire in our hearts to understand each other, we can have a faithful discussion about why the United Church is so strongly committed to seeking human rights for our gay and lesbian sisters and brothers. Or we can chat with the Roman Catholic church about why Protestants are not allowed to share in the Eucharist and how we might reconcile at the table. Or we can come to understand why the Bible is interpreted in so many different ways by different groups of Christians.
In a world that is fractured so dramatically and painfully along political and ethnic lines, perhaps we as a church can come to the higher ground of building bridges to one another, as living witness to our commitment to “love God and love neighbour.”