During his last meal with his disciples, Jesus launches into this absolutely epic prayer, which concludes with Jesus praying for us: the church!
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
- John 17:20-23
Many of us have heard Jesus’ prayer and shrugged it off: it’s nice that followers of Christ are supposed to be united, but it’s just way too hard to stick together when some people are so wrong.
It’s easy for us to think that unity is about churches being nice and polite so we can tolerate one another.
But this prayer is about way more than simple tolerance: the unity of the church is actually the sign to the world that Christ is King!
The church was meant to unite young and old, rich and poor, male and female; people from every socio-economic background and from every tribe on earth. It was meant to pull together the liberal and the conservative (and the NDP), the anarchist and the politician, soldiers and pacifists, Mac users and PC users. It was made to hold together all people, across time and space; even the living and the dead!
And we fight about what songs we should sing and how we should baptize people.
Brothers and sisters: this is not right! It’s time the church did the difficult, painful work of reconciliation… and it starts with us!
Over the next six weeks we’re going to be learning about unity, and beginning the long and challenging process of being transformed, more and more, into the uniting community Jesus prayed for.
It’s time for a family reunion!