23 January, 2012

Homily for Evensong - Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2012

1 Corinthians 15 
John 17

The theme for this year’s week of prayer for Christian Unity is “We will all be changed” from the First Letter to the Corinthians.
In this passage Paul speak of the resurrected life that awaits all those who live and believe in Christ. He doesn’t write about settling differences amongst believers, nor does he urge the Church in Corinth to pray for unity. Paul simply states that Christ has won victory over death and sin, and that all the believers will be changed, coming to share in the same victory; a victory that will transform even our relationships with one another.

So, I want to put to you that divisions among Christians are necessarily connected to the fact that we are still mortal, still not changed in the image of Christ the Lord. That is to say, that our divisions are caused by sin – which more often than not can be identified as pride.

We break up the Church by sinning against God as we fail to seek Him with a sincere heart that has done away with personal prejudices and agendas; we fail to love God above all things and to love each other as Christ did. We intentionally break up the mystical Body of Christ, setting up churches and refusing to dialogue with other brothers and sisters. We wilfully ignore the Church, her unity and her creed; but most of all, we are content with a lukewarm spirituality which does not long truly for the Kingdom of God and the life of Christ within us.
We will all be changed. Death and sin will have no power over us, and because of this there will be no more divisions among us. This we know from our first reading, but what about now?

Should we keep on behaving as normal, fracturing and breaking up the Church in order to serve our agendas, our pride, and our self-centredness?

Should we not strive instead to live the resurrected life, for what we are capable of, here on earth?
Should we not endeavour to improve day by day on the way that leads to life and unity?
Should we not do our utmost to live the life of Christ, resurrected life, even now in our mortal bodies?
We will all be changed and all faithful Christians, from whatever denomination, will be gathered to enjoy the vision of God forever. However, we have a work to do here and this is to heal the wounds of the Church, her fractures and her divisions. In order to do so we must put our old self to death (cf. Eph. 4:17-32) as Paul says; that is, we need to put to death our pride and our selfish agendas, however good or zealous they might seem to us at first.
If the unity of the Church was something that would only happen at the resurrection, would Jesus have prayed to the Father that his followers may all be one(cf. John 17:11) in Him?
And if the resurrected life was something to be experienced only in the next age, would Paul have said It is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20)?
No. Therefore, let us make every effort to be Christ-like to each other and living in this present age a foretaste of the life and unity we will all experience through the fullness of the resurrection.

1 comment:

smithj1@unisa.ac.za said...

Dear AAB

Just a quick note from here down south (South Africa, to be precise) that I think your blog is excellent. I totally agree with your sentiments - Anglicans need to stop firing bullets at each other and work together.

Jane (Pretoria, South Africa)