Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. John 17:11
The idea that Christians have a spirit of unity that unites them into one family is found in many places in the Bible but one of the places where it is most prominent is found in Jesus' priestly prayer that is given in John's Gospel. The prayer is several chapters long and shares a theology that as God and Jesus are united in spirit then so much Jesus' followers be united. Jesus was preparing his disciples for the day when he would no longer be with them in human flesh. He would be with them through the gift of the Holy Spirit that would come on the Day of Pentecost but they would no longer see him with their human eyes, only through the eyes of faith.
The United Church of Christ chose for its motto when it was formed in 1957 the words found in this priestly prayer: That They May All Be One. That motto can be found on a stained glass window in our church sanctuary. It was important to the founders of the United Church of Christ because it was being formed through the merger of two denominations--the Congregational Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. After the two merged, neither would have their separate identities because they would be part of one organism. Both of these denominations continue to have their uniqueness and qualities all their own having to do with church architecture (such as those beautiful white steeple Congregational churches in New England) or church culture (such as the German writing you see here and there in the former Evangelical and Reformed church buildings). When the UCC meets as one united denomination at its biennial meetings, those distinctions are merged into one body that makes decisions and suggestions that concern the entire church in every part.
God is our deepest reality, guiding and inspiring us to join our personal fulfillment with that which is healing for the planet and its inhabitants. Our awareness of our spiritual unity with others is not the result of any outside influence, even that which is positive and affirming, but it comes from an enlivened awareness of the fact that God is in us and we are in God.
The Prayer of St. Patrick proclaims:
Christ behind me and before me,
Christ beneath me and above me,
Christ with me and in me,
Christ around and about me,
Christ on my life and my right.
This holy nature of this relationship we have with God will always be mysterious but it points to the awareness that we are dependent on God as the source of our strength and that we are joined in interdependence with others on the planet. Jesus first-century prayer makes a difference in our lives. Jesus' prayer shapes our own sense of God's presence in our lives and inspires us to see God in all things and all things in God.
Affirm for yourself:
In Christ, I am joined with all Creation.
My well being and the well being of others is joined.
I am one with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I am one in the Spirit with others.
Holy God, give me vision to see you in all things, and all things in your love. Let me see Christ in all things and all things in Christ. Let me love Christ in all things and receive Christ's love through all things. Let your vision abound in all things, transforming the world and transforming my heart. Amen.