In yesterday’s reading from John 17, we have one of what feels like the most impassioned prayers that Jesus prays. The whole of chapter 17 is Jesus praying for his disciples and specifically for unity in verses 20 and following. While Jesus was praying specifically for his followers, it speaks to me about the divisions that seem to be growing wider and wider. You see it in the church between theological and social positions. We see it in areas of racial issues (both within the church and beyond). We see it in the rhetoric of our presidential candidates and our political leaders (both sides of the aisle). Many experience it in our own families.
I took this picture a year ago today as we were on the ferry from the port of Cape Town to Robben Island. The South African flag was designed after the end of Apartheid to represent “the rainbow nation” of people from all different backgrounds, be they having their ancestral roots in Africa or in England or other places. Mandela recognized that the nation could only go forward by seeking intentionally to move past just the divisions that existed and to try to work on unity as a nation. It wasn’t a denial of the differences that existed but seeking to reach beyond just the divisions to the commonality beneath.
I feel that is part of my calling in my life today – I don’t always practice it perfectly (or even well), but I am trying. I am grateful for the ways that the congregation I serve is moving down this path as we have partnered with another congregation in sharing space and ministry. I am grateful for the brothers and sisters I have connected with through a multi-ethnic pastors network here in town. I am grateful for the ways that the Lord is working in and through me in this area. Whether it is in church or beyond the church, I do want to be one working to help fulfill the prayer that Jesus offered – that we may be one as God is one.