By Deacon Greg Ventura
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
I think in light of the political division within the country that it is good to think about unity this Lent. Paul calls us to it. You would think that because of that, Christians would be good at it and for the most part we are, but there is always room for improvement. I know I can use a lot more patience. Maybe I am preaching to myself more than you, but that is fine, please bear with me. This is Lent and we should all be reflecting on our walk with God during this time. How can we improve our relationship with Him?
I will date myself with this reference, but the people around my age, probably know the song, “Why Can’t We Be Friends” by War. It is a funny take on a serious subject. The song talks about a variety of reasons why people don’t always get along. The refrain of “Why can’t we be friends,” is repeated throughout the song. Some problems are beyond the ability of one person to make significant, but there is one problem we can always solve. We can solve the problem of self. We can change our own behaviour. What better time to do that than Lent? Hopefully, we are spending a bit more time in prayer and with God.
So War in their song says the following:
“Sometimes I don't speak right
But yet I know what I'm talking about”
© 1975 War
Communication is important. We have all played the telephone game and know how important it is to communicate a clear message. There have been plenty of times, when I will start a conversation with Sharon, my wife, where I am already in the middle of a thought. She will give me a puzzled look and ask what I am talking about. Then I will have to backup mentally to the start of the internal conversation I have been having. My brothers and sister in Christ, at St. Georges, may have first hand experience of this with me as well. Good communication takes time. It also allows for plenty of grace, because we may not always speak right, even though on the inside we know what we want to say.
We need to communicate well if we are going to live in unity. Christians have coined a phrase for how we don’t live in unity with each other. It is called, “eating our own.” We have certain strong beliefs. We disagree with people that hold different beliefs. It is possible for that disagreement to become bitter and the unity ends. You may recall that we left the Espiscopal Church. We did so with good reasons. I don’t believe we can live in unity with them, which is the reason that many churches struggled for years in coming to that decision. Some churches in The Episcopal Church are still struggling with that. Maybe you recall Bishop Love and some of the people and churches in his diocese. Do we pray for those parishes still in the Episcopal Church? I know that I do not pray for them as often as I used to. Do we think they are not Christian anymore? I certainly believe that Bishop Love and many of those around him are, but what about the ones that have been labeled Revisionists? I hope we do continue to think of them as Christian, just not as orthodox as we are. Are they beyond the power of God to draw them to repentance? I know the answer to that is, ‘No.’
I know we are told to not cast pearls before swine, but have we reduced our enemies to that? I hope not. Maybe you are worn out by praying for something that has not changed? Hand it over to God. Ask him to put on your heart whom you should pray for and be open to praying for someone you might not really want to be praying for.
There are many ways we can be in unity with our fellow Christians. We can watch how we speak. We can pray for guidance on things that we might be able to do or say. Left us reflect on how we might strengthen the unity of the church.