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Unity in Christ   9 comments

Above:  An Ecumenical Environmental Stewardship Meeting at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, September 24, 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

https://picasaweb.google.com/114749828757741527421/CreationkeepersWorkshop#5656073415868878738

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Ephesians 2:1-22 (Revised English Bible):

You once were dead because of your sins and wickedness; you followed the ways of this present world order, obeying the commander of the spiritual powers of the air, the spirit now at work among God’s rebel subjects.  We too were once of their number:  we were ruled by our physical desires, and did what instinct and evil imagination suggested.  In our natural condition we lay under the condemnation of God like the rest of mankind.  But God is rich in mercy, and because of his great love for us, he brought us to life with Christ when we were dead because of our sins; it is by grace you are saved.  And he raised us up in union with Christ Jesus and enthroned us with him in the heavenly realms, so that we might display in the ages to come how immense are the resources of his grace, and how great his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you are saved through faith; it is not your own doing.  It is God’s gift, not a reward for work done.  There is nothing for anyone to boast of; we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the life of good deeds which God designed for us.

Remember then your former condition, Gentiles as you are by birth, “the uncircumcised” as you are called by those who call themselves “the circumcised” because of a physical rite.  You were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the community of Israel, strangers to God’s covenants and the promise that goes with them.  Yours was a world without hope and without God.  Once you were far off, but now in union with Christ Jesus you have been brought near through the shedding of Christ’s blood.  For he is himself our peace.  Gentiles and Jews, he has made the two one, and in his own body of flesh and blood has broken down the barrier of enmity which separated them; for he annulled the law with its rules and regulations, so as to create out of the two a single new humanity in himself, thereby making peace.  This was his purpose, to reconcile the two in a single body to God through the cross, by which he killed the enmity.  So he came and proclaimed the good news:  peace to you who were far off, and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access to the Father in the one Spirit.

Thus you are no longer aliens in a foreign land, but fellow-citizens with God’s people, members of God’s household.  You are built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the corner-stone.  In him the whole building is bonded together in the Lord.  In him you also are being built with all the others into a spiritual dwelling for God.

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A Related Post:

A Prayer for All Bishops of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/a-prayer-for-all-bishops-of-the-one-holy-catholic-and-apostolic-church/

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Ephesians 2 speaks of unity in Christ.  In the Pauline historical context, the unity was that of Jews and Gentiles.  Times have moved along and circumstances have changed.  To stay local, with a radius of about seven miles from my front door in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, congregations of various Christian denominations have their meeting places.  A partial list follows:

  1. African Methodist Episcopal–1
  2. United Methodist–3
  3. Episcopal–1
  4. Roman Catholic–1
  5. National Baptist–1
  6. Free Will Baptist–1
  7. Southern Baptist–2
  8. Cooperative Baptist–1
  9. Presbyterian (U.S.A.)–2
  10. Presbyterian in America–1
  11. Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)–2
  12. Churches of Christ–1
  13. Christian Church and Churches of Christ–1
  14. Independent–1
  15. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America–1
  16. Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod–1

Of course, separate denominational identities need not lead to hostilities, mutual or otherwise.  I am ritualistic, but some of my best friends are not.  We bear different denominational labels, but we all follow Jesus.  So, as a saying goes,

It’s all good.

Yet many lack this positive attitude.  I recall a late-season episode of Cheers (1982-1993).  Woody and Kelly had discovered on their honeymoon that they belonged to different Lutheran denominations, he to the Missouri Synod and she to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  They spent much of the episode arguing until he agreed to convert, saying,

Yes, dear.

The episode highlighted the relatively minor differences between and among many denominations, and how much many of us emphasize them.

Our unity as Christians is in Christ, first and foremost.  May we focus on that.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 6, 2011 COMMON ERA

PROPER 27, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM TEMPLE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF TE WHITI O RONGOMAI, MAORI PROPHET

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEOPHANE VENARD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MISSIONARY, AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on November 6, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/week-of-proper-24-monday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-24-tuesday-year-2/

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