Today (Wednesday, January 19) marks the second day in the eight day Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. During this week, daily scripture references, meditation and prayer will be offered for readers’ reflection. (Material provided courtesy of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute, Garrison, New York.)
Isaiah 55:1-4, Come to the waters.
Psalm 85:8-13 , Surely salvation is at hand.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27, For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
John 15:1-13, I am the true vine.
The Church in the Acts of the Apostles is the model of the unity we seek today. It reminds us that prayer for Christian unity cannot be for uniformity, because unity from the beginning has been characterized by rich diversity. It is the model or icon of unity in diversity.
The narrative of Pentecost tells us that there were represented on that day all the languages and cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world and beyond. As St. Paul would later write, “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body… Jews or Greeks, slaves or free… and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” It is not a uniform community of like minded, culturally and linguistically united people who were one in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship. The church was at unity within itself, and one with the Risen Lord.
Rich diversity characterizes the churches around the world. Like the earliest church, Christians today remind us that we are many members in one body, a unity in diversity. Ancient traditions teach us that diversity and unity exist in the heavenly Jerusalem. They remind us that difference and diversity are not the same as division and disunity, and that the Christian unity for which we pray always preserves authentic diversity.
God, from whom all life flows in its rich diversity, you call your Church as the Body of Christ to be united in love. May we learn more deeply our unity in diversity and strive to work together to preach, and build up the Kingdom of your abundant love in all places. May we always be mindful of Christ as the source of our life together. We pray in the unity of the Spirit. Amen.