Justice: all too often we fall into the trap of thinking and acting as if it is our responsibility to work for justice. Justice, however, is a gift of God for which our prayers must never waver.
Healing: all too often we fall into the trap of thinking and acting as if it is our responsibility to work for healing.
Healing, however, is a gift of God for which our prayers must never waver.
"All too often we fall into the trap of thinking and acting as if it is our responsibility to hold the Church together. Unity, however, is a gift of God lived into as we are faithful to God’s redemptive mission for a hurting, broken, and alienated world. It is in our common service to God’s mission beyond the Church that we will better understand our unity “en Christo.” In these discussions let us keep the cart behind the horse. Our common life in Christ is for the sake of God’s mission; by God’s grace we understand the unity of the Church to follow." (From here).
"Our unity does not belong to us, but is a gift for which Christ prayed to his Father, and for which our prayers must never waver. We are called to love and honor one other as possessing part of the Divine Truth, the wholeness of which will be revealed in Christ’s blessed kingdom." (From here).
No, I am not convinced that unity is something we pray for but do not work for, which we assume will follow when we dive into mission without first asking whether it is a common mission.
In Scripture we read this:
"... walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called ... eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit ... And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God ... Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, ... makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." (Ephesians 4:1-17)
"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ ... that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel ... So if there is any encouragement in Christ ... complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind." (Philippians 1:27-2:3)
There is a clear and unmistakeable duty laid on those whom claim to be in Christ to work with the Spirit of God on being one in Christ, of one mind of Christ. Naturally we should pray for unity - it is not easy - joining our prayer with the Lord's prayer ut unim sint. But it is an easy pass to ascribe unity to the area of 'gift of God' no further work needed here. Imagine saying that justice or healing were also in that area!
The two citations above are from two responses to a challenge posed by Christopher Wells and Leander Harding at the beginning of an online forum offered by The Living Church. Here is their question:
"A number of leaders in the Episcopal Church express a desire to encourage the minority, reassuring us that our presence and voices are both welcome and necessary as the loyal opposition. But what would real encouragement look like? Granting that we cannot easily resolve our disagreements at present, is there nonetheless some gesture that might begin to restore a shared sense of identity and common purpose?"
Their whole post is here. Over successive days running up to Christmas they will post responses to their proposal from a variety of leading thinkers within TEC.
My concern from Down Under is that, again, we see the cleavage between TEC and many Anglicans around the globe. We cannot even agree that unity is something we might bother to do more than pray for. If we do not even have unity about unity (so to speak!), what a fine mess we are in ...