The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light… --Matthew 4:16
This week is the annual “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,” and I was honored to be asked to preach here in Tulsa at a service marking the occasion. Throughout the course of my ministry, I have been blessed to work alongside wonderful ecumenical partners on a whole range of projects and ministries. I have deeply appreciated these partners’ perspectives on faith and life, even when we have disagreed. The disagreement has often pushed me to go deeper into my own theological understandings and consider my own perspectives in a new light. But, for the most part, it has been the things we held in common that have bound us together, strengthened our mutual ministries and enabled us to do things we couldn’t have done alone. Working together, we have brought daylight to places shrouded in the shadows of the night.
An interesting thing about daylight. For starters, it is transparent, or at least seems so. It can help us see things more clearly, honestly and directly. I remember driving through the night in a blizzard. You couldn’t see much past the front bumper. It was treacherous and terrifying. But when the sun rose… salvation! In the light of day, we could finally see our way forward, anticipate what was coming, and avoid the many vehicles stuck along the roadside.
In the course of his ministry, Jesus shined daylight and healing power into a death-shrouded world. His ministry put flesh and blood on the prophecy of Isaiah Matthew quotes in this week’s lesson. As followers of the Way of Jesus, we find our deepest and most enduring unity in his illuminating light. When we are transparent, open and welcoming to one another and to a hurting world, his light shines through us with healing and life.
Another thing about daylight. When you shine it through a prism, the seemingly transparent rays break into a beautiful rainbow of colors. This is just one illustration of the wonderful diversity God has built into the creation! A diversity I celebrate, even in Christ’s Church. While it is true that Christians have managed to shatter the Body of Christ again and again over the past two thousand years, I believe the Holy Spirit has used the resulting diversity for the sake of the Gospel. Because God is too great for any one of us to grasp, and gift of Jesus is so great all the books in the world could not contain it (as John 21:25 reminds us) what a blessing the rainbow of perspectives and approaches to the faith are to us all! No one denomination (or non-denomination) is perfect – no, not even us Lutherans! None of us has the whole picture. But, when we bring the best of our traditions and practices together we get a fuller sense of who God is and can do so much more to impact the world in grace-filled ways.
Please join me in praying for the unity of all God’s children and for the light of Christ to shine through us. Thanks for reading.