From the Pastor

Dear friends in Christ,

On Sunday, I invited you to join with me in prayer during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an annual prayer focus sponsored by the Commission on Faith and Unity of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.  It is a reminder each year that Jesus’ desire for his Church and for his disciples is that we “will be one.”  At the conclusion of his Farewell Discourse at John 17: 20-2, Jesus prays on behalf of his disciples gathered around him, but also on behalf of “those who will believe in me through their word.”  In other words, Jesus prays this prayer on behalf of Christian disciples of every generation; he prays this prayer on behalf of you and me.  And it is a prayer that we may all be one.  As the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father, so should the followers of Jesus behave as though they too are one with the Father and the Son, and one with each other.  The disciples are to be one so that “the world may believe….” 

Our unity as disciples of Jesus Christ is a necessary component of our witness to the world, because our unity reflects upon our practice of loving one another just as Jesus loves us.  In this community grounded in mutual love we receive a peace that the world cannot give. 

Love alone has the power to bridge every gap, to overcome every division, and to show the world Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord.  In 1749, John Wesley preached a sermon entitled “The Catholic Spirit.”  By catholic, of course, he meant universal, just as we declare in our creeds our belief in the “one holy catholic and apostolic church.”  Let me close this reflection with a lengthy, but worthy quote from Wesley’s sermon:

“I am fully convinced of my own beliefs.  But in the spirit of Christian love, I do not expect my opinions to be the rule for you or for others.  All I ask is this: can we love one another as Christ loves us?  Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?  If it is, give me your hand.  Now, you may ask, what does it mean to have a “right” heart?  Simply this.  Do you love others with a Christian love, even your enemies; and do you show this love, not only in what you say, but also in the way you live?  Let all the controversial issues stand aside.  If you seek to love God and all God’s children, then give me your hand.  This is Christian love; this is the true catholic spirit.  Hear me, O child of God, and think on these things.  Let us have our own opinions and respect one another.  And let us be united in the catholic spirit of Christian love.  Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?  If it is, then give me your hand.”

Grace and peace,

Alan