The gospel for this past Sunday told the story of Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River, the event that marked the formal beginning of Jesus’ ministry of preaching, teaching and healing. The gospel ends with this line:
“this is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
I am more and more convinced that these are words for each one of us in our own baptism: that we are God’s beloved. Our lifelong journey as God’s people, then, is to live into that awareness, and to share it with the world.
Christians throughout the world have disagreements about creeds, communion, doctrine, and any number of other issues and practices. Try as we might, agreement seems to come in bits and pieces, or not at all. Baptism is the one sacrament recognized by most Christian denominations as basic and universal. Prayer, and the power of prayer is another. The words, languages and forms may differ, but the intent remains the same.
Recognizing this, like-minded groups of Christians began seeking ways that common ground could be found and built upon through sharing prayer. The Church Unity Octave was first observed in January 1908. Celebrated in the chapel of a small Atonement Franciscan Convent of the Protestant Episcopal Church, on a remote hillside fifty miles from New York City, this new prayer movement caught the imagination of others beyond the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement to become an energetic movement that gradually blossomed into a worldwide observance involving many nations and millions of people.
Today it is called The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and is celebrated in a variety of ways throughout the world. The intent is not conformity, with everyone thinking, acting and believing the same way. It is, rather, an attempt to find unity in our diversity, and commonality in our ability to pray with and for one another as God’s people.
If you would like Meditations for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, (an octave that begins Saturday, January 18) here are two good options: You can download a pdf or word file for a booklet from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland at: http://www.ctbi.org.uk/657 (You will need to scroll down the page. The Word document downloads moreeasily.)
You can go to the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute site for on line daily reflections: http://www.geii.org/week_of_prayer_for_christian_unity/prayer_worship/daily_scripture_and_prayer_guide.html In our unity and in our diversity, may we all recognize ourselves and one another as God’s beloved, this and every day.
Peace and blessing,
St Thomas Telephone Problems:
At least one person has experienced some difficulties in reaching St Thomas Church at 908-996-4091. If you have had problems of the phone ringing and ringing without being answered and not going to voicemail, please let me know. We are trying to trace the problem, but need information from those experiencing difficulties in trying to reach us. Thanks, Carol