At this time of year we join with people throughout the world and pray for Christian Unity. We do so because Jesus prayed that his followers are of one body. But look around. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the church, the body of Christ, is anything but one…anything but united. Signs of Christian disunity can be found all around us. There are dozens of Christian denominations…all proclaiming they know best how to interpret the Word of God. Many claim they alone are the “true” church.
As Lutherans, we profess that we are part of the Body of Christ, an important part but not the only part. We do not claim to be the “true” church but rather a group of people gathered by God whom express a faithful witness to Christ and Christ’s mission. Again, we are simply part of the body of Christ.
In the Nicene Creed we confess “We believe in one holy catholic (united) and apostolic church.” You see, the unity of the church, for us, is a matter of faith. Yes, there are many people of many denominations, still we confess there is only one church in our communities and the world. All who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior are part of this church…no matter what.
I wonder, how well can we, do we, express our unity with all Christians? One way we do so is our public declaration of being in common mission with several other denominations including the Episcopalian, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also has made a joint declaration with the Roman Catholic Church about justification. Shepherd of the Mountains observed the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with the good people gathered as St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Park City.
In addition, as people gathered as Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church, we can express the unity of the Body of Christ by seeking to understand other faith communitys’ perspectives. We can look for common ground in our participation in Christ’s mission.
As the crosses on our Narthex walls remind us we are but part of the Body of Christ present in this world. We recognize global unity in the church. In doing so, we share the burdens and celebrations of Christians throughout the world…such as our sister and brothers in Madagascar and Sudan.
And, as part of the Body of Christ, we are in communion with all the saints…past, present, and future. We are in communion with people all over the world and in heaven.
This month, I invite you to take a moment and celebrate! Thank God for a diverse and vital people with whom we faithfully and joyfully enter into Christ’s Mission. People with whom we care and love our neighbors as God cares and loves us as well as all of creation.
Christ’s Peace, Pastor Steve