In the One Spirit we were all baptised
I’m sure that for many of us, this week of prayer for Christian unity has passed us by without really a second or even first thought. We should of course find this rather sad as Jesus himself prayed earnestly that we may all be one. But it seems that the prayer of Jesus for unity amongst his disciples, was one which from the very beginnings of the Christian Church, was going to require much hard work. We read from St Paul how factions soon became established within the fledgling communities: I am for Paul, I am for Cephas, I am for Appollos, and Paul had to quickly and constantly remind his Churches just who it was that died and rose for them, and who it is who now intercedes for them with the Father through the Spirit. So it is probably fair enough to say that our quest for unity remains a far off goal that slowly, slowly and little by little will be achieved only though remembering the centrality of Jesus as the person who brings ultimate unity to each of us, as we will all discover in the fulness of time.
The command then of Jesus is for us to pray for unity, and to allow the grace of God’s Spirit to carry out its task, instilling in us the desire to strive for unity as a work in progress. The road is long yet we have all begun the journey, as in the one Spirit we were all baptised, and this I believe, is the crucial and essential element of our communion with every Christian. The grace of God’s spirit has been given to each of us, to use and to to apply to our lives in ways which determine our choices and decisions. To guide and strengthen us. To inform and teach us. To enlighten us and open our eyes to the possibilities that living a life of Christian virtue is the calling we have received.
The consequences of this are set before us in the gospel today. Luke recounts the moment when Jesus comes to the synagogue at Nazara and takes the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He looks for the place in the book were it is written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me … and he begins to read a text which ends with the proclamation of a jubilee year of grace and favour. How fitting it is then that we too are embarking on such a Year of Jubilee, wherein the favour of the Lord will be available to all who come seeking his mercy and forgiveness. As we hear Jesus’ words let them settle in our hearts and stir up in us a desire to experience the tender love of God present amongst us here. Jesus challenges us with his claim that this text is being fulfilled today. It can only be so if we are prepared to take up the baton of love and run with it. To let people find God in the daily events of their lives and to celebrate God’s compassion in the actions and responses we make to one another, for it is in us, that God dwells and it is through us that God works.
On Sunday evening we will gather in Church to celebrate with our fellow Christians this unity of belief which we share. We will do so by allowing the Spirit to bring forth in us the many variety of gifts which we possess, and in that way express the oneness and unity of God, who through Jesus his only begotten Son, shows us the path to the Father so that in the Spirit, we may be anointed as disciples in faith, hope and love.
Please come along and join us