Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

 Ecumenical Sunday: Unity of churches – God’s will

John 17:18-26

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that may be one as we are one…”V22

This passage is a part of Jesus’s longest prayer recorded in the Gospels. It is also called as Jesus’s High Priestly prayer. Herein, He prays to the Father as He knows that the hour to be glorified is at hand. Jesus is conscious that His glorification is through the cross, where He will suffer and die for the redemption of the world. When He is lifted up, He will draw everyone to Himself (John 12:32). For the community that will be formed by this glorification, Jesus intercedes. Jesus prays, not only for the community of His immediate disciples, but also for the entire community of believers that will be formed because of the testimony of these disciples. Thus, the prayer that Jesus prayed that night is for all of us. These are some aspects that we can understand from Jesus’s intercession for His Church as a faith community. The Church is:

1.To be sanctified by Christ
To be sanctified means to be made holy or set apart for a divine purpose. A major part of Jesus’s ministry was to prepare His disciples to continue His ministry in this world. For that, He had set them apart and showed His own life as an example. Through His word, teachings and His own life examples, Jesus sanctified them and made them conscious of the fact that they were to be dedicated to God’s purpose in their lives. His own act of washing the feet of the disciples was to be the model for the service by His disciples (John 13:15). 

2.To be united in Christ
Moving forward, the consecrated disciples were to be united as they ministered in this world. This unity is not self-generated by the community. This unity would come by being drawn into the love that Jesus shared with His Father. Thus, Jesus prayed to His Father that they would be united and in love with each other just as He was with His Father. The faith community is to be united and not necessarily uniform. Even if they may be different in many respects, Jesus wants the people of God to be united in the love of God. As the Puritan saying goes, “Unity in essentials, liberty in non-essentials, charity in all things.”

3.To be sent for Christ
The faith community is sent into the world just as the God sent His Son into the world. The Apostles and later the faith community is to work to draw the world to God through their acts of redemption. A united Church is the greatest testimony that the faith community can use to proclaim the love of God. This unity can strengthen the Church to go and work for God. It can empower the Church in its witness and mission. 

Ecumenism is the concept that Christians who belong to different Christian denominations should work together to develop closer relationships among their Churches and promote Christian unity. Different Churches can unite together to take on the challenge of taking the Gospel to the unreached. Another area where unity of Churches can be a great help is in the witness of the Church in Society. Churches’ unity can also empower its advocacy for itself and for marginalized when the Church has to speak the truth to powers that be. Unity between Churches is the will of God.

 Dear Lord, we acknowledge that we are often divided against each other and need to work over our divisions. Give us the love and grace to work over our divisions so that we can be united in Your love as one faith community. Amen

                                                  Thought for the day
               A divided Church hurts God, a united Church is the greatest testimony that God’s love dwells there
                                             Rev. Thomas John
                       Vicar, Delhi St. Peter's Mar Thoma Church

 Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church

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