I still remember very well one of the first racially integrated church services I and some members of our predominantly white church attended. South Africa was emerging slowly from years of forced racial segregation, and people from all levels of society were talking together, sharing together, and worshiping together. As we made our way toward an Easter Sunday evening service, my heart was throbbing in my throat, and I was looking forward to the service with bated breath. Things turned out well that evening, and I cherish those memories. Things for our country, however, have not always been that great; poverty continues to increase, and inequality is on the rise.
One thing has kept me going over the years: I look for signs of God’s kingdom. I always attempt to discern signs of the unity among God’s people, regardless of denominational affiliation.
In our reading today, we hear some of Jesus’ special prayer to his Father. Jesus asks that everyone who believes in him be one. He then continues to say that his people have been called to unity so that the world may believe that his Father has sent him.
I always have held firmly to the opinion that says: “Where there is division, Christ is not.” For me, one of the kingdom-signs is our ability to work, love, and co-exist side-by-side as God’s children.
Attending a racially diverse church has led me to laboring among people from different denominations, faiths, and backgrounds. The welcome I received that Easter evening humbled me and showed me that God’s basileia (kingdom) is and can be a reality, even when it seems as if negativity might gain the upper hand. So, let’s stand together and know that we worship one Lord, who is God and Father of all.
Holy Father, Son, and Spirit: We confess that you are three in one and one in three. Help us to follow you through our words, thoughts, and actions. Help us to become instruments of unity among your people. Amen.
How did you first hear about the gospel? Was it from your family or a friend? Or was it from a completely unexpected source? This week’s readings remind us that God uses many different techniques of revelation. Paul and Silas are in prison in Philippi, and the guard of the prison has no idea that he is about to encounter the power of God and come to faith. The psalmist says that creation itself reveals God’s glory and power. In Revelation, Jesus speaks directly about his future return and reign, as attested by his messenger and by the Spirit. Jesus prays in John for his followers, because through their unity the gospel will be proclaimed to others. Although Jesus ascends to heaven, the revelation of his plan and purpose does not end.
Read Acts 16:16-34. Recall a difficult time in your life. Were you able to continue to praise God through this time?
Read Psalm 97. Write your own word picture of what it means to be a child of God, who is in control.
Read Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21. How has Jesus’ invitation to partake of the water of life changed you?
Read John 17:20-26. What signs of division do you see in your community? How can you work toward the oneness to which God calls us?
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