We are One in the Spirit, We are One in the Lord

 

Back in 1968, when I was ten years old, I owned the world. ( Or at least my little corner of it- the part that I could reach after school and on Saturdays on my aqua Schwinn one-speed with the white plastic "wicker" basket on the front.)  I knew the ins and outs of my neighborhood: the little creek behind the Savings Bank where tadpoles swam in the spring... the times of day when I could sneak onto the Miss Porter's School tennis courts and hit balls against the backboard... the 'secret' path down to the river and the ramshackle shed that my older brother and his friends built... the place in the fence at the Farmington Motor Inn where we could slip between the boards and gain access to the swimming pool... and the long fields off the lawn of the Hillstead Museum where we would hike and cavort and, later, as teens, camp out, undercover. 

On Sundays, my family attended St. James, Farmington, where my mom served as the Church School Director and my dad was on the Vestry and a lector and I sang in the Junior Choir.  Just this week I returned to St. James for an evening meeting and was flooded with memories- I think that I truly learned the meaning of the word "nostalgia" this week. 

SO- in 1966, a certain Peter Sholtes wrote a now famous hymn- or song- at the time of the Civil Rights movement - Peter was a parish priest in Chicago at the time and looking for music that might speak to the power of the movement and Jesus' call to Unity.  We sang his hymn in Junior Choir when I was 10. The familiar lyrics follow:

-1-
We are One in The Spirit,
We are One in The Lord.
We are One in The Spirit,
We are One in The Lord.
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.

Chorus
And they'll know we are Christians by our love,
By our Love,
Yes they'll know we are Christians by our love.

-2-
We will work with each other,
We will work side by side.
We will work with each other,
We will work side by side.
And we'll guard each man's dignity
And save each man's pride.

Chorus

-3- 

We will walk with each other,
We will walk hand in hand.
We will walk with each other,
We will walk hand in hand.
And together we'll spread the News
that God is in our land.

 

Lately, I 've been dwelling on this theme of Unity in my work as Canon for Mission Collaboration and in my prayer time.

Collaboration, I've been telling folks, is not the magic bullet that will save the church. Collaboration is not the answer to the decline of the mainstream church and Collaboration is not going to replenish our endowments or pay our oil bills AND Collaboration is a faithful response to both the state of the Church today and Jesus' call to us.

I have been working with  regional clusters of congregations to implement collaborative measures. In these meetings, as we dream about the good projects and liturgies that we could do together, I've been asking "what is the value of collaboration? What is the point, anyway?"  There are lots of answers, but the most satisfying one that I've heard is about the call to Unity.

At our last collaboration meeting ( this one for the churches in Central CT) we ended the meeting with a Drum Circle.  Deacon Doug Engwall came with bags and bags of drums and percussion instruments and led our group of about 50 folks in joining together, playing a common beat. It was magnificent!  Drums, wood blocks, maracas, even a cowbell- this informal band found a way to play together, to build community and to work as One.

At our community eucharist at Diocesan House on Wednesday we used the post communion prayer from Enriching Our Worship which (unlike our other post-communion prayers) underscores the benefit of unity, achieved through the Sacrament:

God of abundance,

you have fed us

with the bread of life and cup of salvation;

you have united us

with Christ and one another;

and you have made us one

with all your people in heaven and on earth.

Now send us forth

in the power of your Spirit,

that we may proclaim your redeeming love for the world

and continue forever in the risen life of Christ our Savior.  Amen.

 

How are you participating in Christ's call to Unity? How is your church reaching out to embrace the Other?  What collaborative measures can you imagine?

I am happy to come and work with your faith community to explore collaboration... and always looking to hear the good news of how so many congregations are reaching out-

We are One in the Spirit, we are One in the Lord.

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