These are some brief notes related to my October 5 sermon, part of our series on the “Seven Values” that guide us as a church.
At the centre of all our beliefs and practices as Christians, like a bonfire that draws us to its warmth and light on a cold night, is a Person and a Way: Jesus, and Jesus’ way of love. This is what it means to be “united in Christ.” This is the “unity of the Spirit.”
This unity has a centre but no boundaries. It refuses to build walls between “us” and “them,” and always seeks to include others (Eph 2:13-18). There is always more room around the fire of Jesus and Jesus-love.
The centre of this unity is simple but not simplistic. It allows for a variety of ways of thinking and living and worshiping, but refuses to make any of those things part of the centre that unites us. The fire of Jesus and Jesus-love provides the light by which we see everything else, from who God is to how we should live. But this doesn’t make these other things part of the fire that unites us.
This unity encompasses a full circle around the centre. It allows for many different ways of coming to that centre, from many different paths and perspectives. It is natural to think that the way we came to the fire of Jesus and Jesus-love is the only way. But if we listen to the stories of others around the fire, stories across denominations and through history and from around the world, we will learn of the rich diversity of Christian faith and life.
We are called to “make every effort to maintain this unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3), and we do that with a few practical basics, the everyday stuff of the Christian life. Forgive each other. Trust in God through our fears of difference and change. Show compassion to each other. Do not judge each other. Be humble in what we think we know. Be gracious to each other. Get a larger perspective on things. Talk to each other, especially in disagreement. Understand and respect our differences.
May all who claim the name of Christ be one, just as the God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one (John 17:20-23; Eph 4:1-6), so that one day this unity of love may extend to all things and all people (Eph 1:9-10; Col 1:19-20).
At Morden Mennonite Church we value unity. We gather together around God our Creator and Redeemer as shown to us in Jesus Christ, following Jesus in loving God and loving others. We gladly worship and serve alongside all who share this common faith, and we pursue open conversation and free cooperation with all who share our common humanity.