I am a visual thinker and learner. An image of a concept helps me to explore, understand and articulate ideas and properties.
So when I think of Christian unity I imagine a crystal suspended in sunlight that refracts the light in different ways as it moves. Each part of the Christian family sees and expresses something of the light of Christ through its own way of worship, living and structure. Each has a gift to share with other members of the family. No one community or way is perfect. Each can learn from the others.
That has been my experience in living with and learning from Christians, from Roman Catholic to Presbyterian, from Quaker to Pentecostal, from traditional monastic communities to new emerging models of community living, from North American Anglicans to those in Africa and Asia. Although I am, and always will be, an Anglican I am deeply grateful for the enrichment I have discovered through participation in a local ecumenical ministerial, accompanying Presbyterian worship services, and learning to listen deeply to my Anglican brothers and sisters who express our shared traditions in different ways.
In the early 20th century there was great optimism that through dialogue Christians could come to a clearer visible unity. This led to the development of the World Council of Churches and many shared initiatives of mission and ministry. Although the early optimism has not been yet realized we, as a Church, continue to engage in intentional dialogue seeking to find ways to express our unity more concretely.
Our national Church has official dialogues with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Roman Catholic Church and a new one with the Mennonite Church in Canada. We partner with ecumenical organizations like Kairos on issues of the common good and justice. Our Primate and bishops seek to speak together with other Christian leaders whenever possible.
Although our churches seem to be preoccupied with our own mission and ministry much of the time, we are called every year to stop – to pray together for the unity Jesus so deeply desired for his disciples (John 17:11).
The WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY is planned to coincide with the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter (January 18) and the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25). Every year the World Council of Churches invites one of its member churches to plan a theme, a service of prayer and bible study that can be used globally during this week. In 2018 churches of the Caribbean have planned the resources – see https://www.weekofprayer.ca/2018-week-prayer-christian-unity-theme.
Look for an opportunity to worship with your fellow Christians in your community (In London – World Day of Prayer for Christian Unity service – January 24th, 7 p.m. St. Peter’s Basilica) – Plan a service together – Share a ministry project (outreach, Vacation Bible School, …..) – and listen to learn how God is known, loved and served through your neighbour’s Christian life.