The Challange of Living in Unity

Our Speaker this week, Sandi DeMaster, is the Pastor and Priest for Lumen Christi; a community who shares our values and our Sanctuary, so has found their home here at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries.  To read more about Lumen Christi click here:  Lumen Christi: Home

We are honored to have Sandi share her words with us this week!

REFLECTION

Perhaps you’ve heard the old story about two aged Quakers chatting contemplatively as they sat in their rocking chairs, watching a summer sunset from their country house porch. The one said to the other, “You know, sometimes I think that everyone in the world is a bit off except for me and thee. And, sometimes I wonder about thee!”

We laugh at that story because we recognize ourselves in it. Privately, we think “I alone see things clearly and everyone else is a bit off.” Family life especially fosters this attitude. When individuals from different genders, backgrounds, and personalities come together, misunderstandings and conflict eventually arise. Adding children escalates the potential for problems. Now take a local church and multiply those numbers by 1-200. It’s easy to imagine that conflict is inevitable.

What was going on in the Christian community in the city of Ephesus that inspired the writer of this letter to pen the words we read today?   It sounds like there was some kind of divisive energy in the air. Maybe leadership was in question, maybe there were economic injustices at play in the community, maybe there were some theological differences floating about as people tried to figure out who this man Jesus had been and how his teachings ought to be practiced. Whatever it was, the writer of this letter was looking to address the human tendency toward division by using the word “one” and “unity” multiple times.

Oneness is a universal principle to which all nature is called to yield. The story of evolution teaches us that life evolved from one cell. Over billions of years, the process of replication and diversification produced complex organisms of unity in diversity. Each cell and each organism made up of cells had its own purpose- a purpose that made a contribution to the entire web of life. To think about it boggles the mind! But in today’s scripture passage, the Divine Power that created this unity of nature calls us to recognize and honor this unity in the way that we live our Christian faith in community.

“We are called to live as one in the spirit of Christ.  I plead with you, then, in the name of our Redeemer, to lead a life worthy of your calling.”   Our calling is to live in unity. We are charged to pursue the goal of reconciliation, not only our personal relationships, but in our faith communities and finally, into reconciling all creation into relationship with the God who intended unity to be the real condition of life.

So how do we move back towards this ideal condition? Many of us “old timers” memorized this KJV verse years ago: “Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,  endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Today we hear it in these words: “treat one another charitably, in complete humility, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the spirit through the peace that binds you together.”   Our worthwhile calling is to the kind of love that is willing to yield one’s own personal position and comfort level for the sake of the whole community.   This is a love that is an act of the will, not an act of emotion. Our calling is not first and foremost to a feeling of coziness and warmth toward one another, but to a choice of actions that maintains unity.

Humility, gentleness, and patience are the qualities that enable preservation of “the unity of the spirit through the peace that binds you together.” How are those qualities being fostered in you as you make the effort to lead a life worthy of your calling?

SCRIPTURE

Ephesians 4:1-6,11-16 (The Inclusive Bible) We are called to live as one in the spirit of Christ.  I plead with you, then, in the name of our Redeemer, to lead a life worthy of your calling. 2 treat one another charitably, in complete humility, gentleness and patience. 3 do all you can to preserve the unity of the spirit through the peace that binds you together. 4 there is one body and one spirit—just as you were called into one hope when you were called. 5 there is one savior, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all. 

QUOTES

Look out into the universe and contemplate the glory of God. Observe the stars, millions of them, twinkling in the night sky, all with a message of unity, part of the very nature of God.

Sai Bab

“Nothing unites people as sharing the same affliction.”

Jack Hyles

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

 J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“Sometimes the thing that brings us together also pulls us apart. Sort of like a zipper.”

 Jarod KintzThis Book Title is Invisible

“All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.”

Alexandre DumasThe Three Musketeers

“The Destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees.”

T.H. White

FOR REFLECTION

As we work toward the realization of the unity that God has created, consider:

Which of our own preferences do we value more highly than the experience of this God-given unity?

To what degree do we desire less unity than God intends?

Do our personal lives and community efforts contribute to the realization of the high goals set forth in the Epistle to the Ephesians?

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