What provides unity among us as members and participants in this gathering of God’s church?
In some ways, we find our unity in similar fashion as the country where our denomination grew up. Like the United States of America, we claim our experience of freedom to be unifying. Each of our members and participants are both free and responsible to interpret the faith, read the Bible and serve God and neighbor. From our experience of an open communion table to our acceptance of members regardless of their form of baptism, we claim freedom to be a unifying principal and experience.
The more important unifying experience is our relationship with God, through Jesus, nurtured by the Holy Spirit. Jesus prayed, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21 - NASB) Jesus prays that we might be one so that the world may believe in God!
It is my understanding that the Christian idea of unity is that we become more like Jesus rather than more like each other.
This has profound implications for our experience of unity.
Let me begin with worship. The unifying experience hoped for in Christian worship is that we experience God who creates us, saves us and nurtures us. When I experience God in worship, I am more closely unified with my brothers and sisters of faith whether they are speaking a different language across the globe or singing a different song at a different hour in the same room.
God blesses us with more opportunities than worship. Our church picnic in September afforded us an opportunity for a unifying experience as we shared a meal and recreation on the church yard. In some ways, this experience of unity allows us conversation with our neighbor that we do not enjoy to the same degree in worship. In October, our Trunk or Treat gave us an opportunity to experience unity as we reached out to our community. Approximately 100 children and adults visited our church for the first time. Between one third and one half of those stayed to eat in our fellowship hall. Both these events were made possible because of the efforts of members & participants from both worship services.
We are truly blessed. I am blessed to be your pastor. I look forward to giving thanks in November with you all.
~ Dr. James Brooks