Over many years, I have enjoyed worshipping and spending time with Christians from a range of denominations and traditions as well as with those who are non-specific about any of this. In my training to be an Anglican priest and subsequent MA, I studied alongside Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans and members of the United Reformed Church (URC), and was the richer for it. I was a curate in a church which brought together Baptists, Methodists, Anglicans and URC into one worshipping and missional faith community. I know that when we are focused on Jesus Christ, the one in whom ‘we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28), there is more that we have in common than that which we allow to divide us. And I understand that diversity – in its many dimensions – is not the same as disunity.
Chemin Neuf is a Catholic-based, ecumenical community. A few of their number form a praying community at Lambeth Palace and I have participated in eucharistic services with them on a handful of occasions. They suggest that, as well as recognising what we have in common, we should also acknowledge the pain both of our division and of those things which are done and said in Jesus’ name that have nothing in common with Him at all.
In this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we pray into the reality of this situation. This is written by the Chemin Neuf community:
who prayed that we might all be one,
we pray to you for the unity of Christians,
according to your will,
according to your means.
May your Spirit enable us
to experience the suffering caused by division,
to see our sin,
and to hope beyond all hope.