David Sipress

“There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Dear Friends in Christ,

The cartoon I’m sharing with you struck a chord with me. It comes from a recent edition of¬†Christian Century, a popular clergy periodical. I’ve been reading articles (various newspapers) that describe a sense of separation or disunity across our country due to political differences. In some cases, members of the same family are distressed by differences to the point of no longer speaking to each other. This is not only sad, but perhaps an issue we will need to deal with as communities or as a nation. I feel we need to do something beyond just debating matters politically. Maybe it’s time to listen.

This cartoon tells me that we are all seeking the same thing, “the weather”, but we are not too caught up in the different ways of getting to the same desired result. Isn’t it true that at the end of the day, all citizens of this country want the same things – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Certainly, we have many varied understandings of these basic quests, but we continue to share the same country and the same humanity. Perhaps we are failing to listen to each other.

As people of faith, I believe we have much to contribute to a renewed sense of unity in our diverse country. First, we come to the conversation having received the gifts of forgiveness and reconciliation; these are part of us that are intended to be shared with those around us. I also hope we can remember that God has called us His people in a new covenant as his church to live outwardly, jumping into the waters of an always divided world with our understandings of unity in Christ. Do we listen to God?

Ephesians 4:4-6 is an early Trinitarian¬†credo (“I believe”) that emphasizes this unity in Christ. It was most likely used early on to instruct baptismal candidates and remind their families of the essential matters of their faith. This is also part of the credo we verbalize in word and song as we worship. We sing and profess these very words of being in “one body and one Spirit.” Are we listening to what we say and sing?

Recently we’ve joined together to listen to stories unlike our own. In this listening we’ve recognized many things we share in our common humanity, the “one body”. I believe, in God’s own way, we also share in this “one Spirit”, regardless of where in the world we originated. Can we take these “onenesses” into our daily lives with family, friends, acquaintances, adversaries, and even strangers to find God’s unity in the middle of our separatenesses? I believe we can and I also believe that is our desire, in our faith.

May you be blessed and be a blessing of forgiveness and unity to all whom you encounter.

Pastor Charlie Leonard