Tuesday 21st July 2020 Basis of Union 8
Ephesians 4: 14-16
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
The United Reformed Church has been formed in obedience to the call to repent of what has been amiss in the past and to be reconciled. It sees its formation and growth as a part of what God is doing to make his people one, and as a united church will take, wherever possible and with all speed, further steps towards the unity of all God’s people. (8)
John, a cheerful Methodist Local Preacher, told me “We’re all going to be living and praising together in heaven – we might as well start now!” But it is not easy to be people seeking unity.
I still remember, as a very new church member, the crushing blow of the failure of the Churches’ Council for Covenanting in 1981, (which would have brought together Methodist and Anglican churches and the United Reformed Church). I confess that even now there are times when I wonder whether we are achieving anything as we sit through yet another Churches Together meeting.
But the Basis of Union reminds us that we don’t pursue ecumenism because it’s easy, or because of how we feel, or because of what we gain. As people who rightly repent past division, we seek reconciliation because we are obedient to God’s call. We seek unity because we want to be faithful to God’s mission to make his people one.
The reading from Ephesians describes this as ‘growing up into Christ’. As we continue to work for unity, this metaphor of growing into one body may be more useful to us than a more mechanistic imagining of bolting together the different parts of our denominations to form a single church. Instead of holding onto our childlike desire to please ourselves, we need to grow more like Christ. Then we will see better how we belong together and how we can be one church, built up in love, by Christ.
God who is the Father of all
help us, your children, to grow up into Christ.
Through the power of your Spirit
make us faithful to the gospel
and a people who seek reconciliation,