Monday, 9 May 2011

++Rowan on Unity

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This is the second blog post on the teaching given by Archbishop Rowan Williams on 7th May 2011. 

Its worth noting that: I did not record the session, I made notes, they may well have included many of my own thoughts arising from the session and of course my notes are affected by my own filters (we all have them).

That said, hear is what I heard and learned.

1Cor12:13 "For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink."

The disciples used to argue about who was the greatest.  in the same way Paul had to deal with churches who would argue about who was the greatest.

Paul tells us that we need to push back against the spirit of rivalry.  We need to fight against the debate about who has the best gifts.  We all have gifts, all of us; God given gifts.

We should not be competitive; we should not be jealous of others; we should instead know that we are working with our gifts.  We should unite with our various gifts.  Unity is about a readiness to receive. 

But this is not easy, let's not kid ourselves it is.  We are brought up to be competitive, society is competitive. But competition is the opposite of unity; how can we receive from the spirit if we are so desperate to achieve?  

If we can leave the competition behind, unite together, then we will be more ready to receive.  At this point we are also going to be happy to share ourselves and our gifts so others can also receive.

God is a trinity; it is a living out of a lack of competition.  

The trinity always does the same thing.  

Each part has it's own skills and they are complementary to each others. 

The trinity shows us how to be united.

Through the One Spirit we are united.  The spirit was poured out for us to drink, the spirit of communion together.

But how has the spirit poured out?
Johns gospel provides the details about the one spirit.

The breaching of Christ's body in crucifixion means that the spirit can flow out.  The spirit floods from the broken body of Christ; it is released.  It's a spirit of communion, fellowship and communication.  It is access to being where Jesus is.  

We are brought into fellowship by the action of Christ and the subsequent flowing of the spirit.  It all comes from one complete act of love and prayer; unity provided over us all through the flood of the spirit.  The self giving love of Christ unites us.

So one of the important things about Christian unity is the skill to sense in each other the prayer and action of Christ.  

We can and should recognise Christ in each other.  

This is how evangelism works, by Christ being recognised in us, us recognising Christ in others and them then recognising Christ in themselves.

Look at the body; there is a plurality of gifts within it which work together to create a one working body.  Unity as one body is working to better communicate and support each others.

So it is with the church.  
We all work together; as long as we communicate effectively and support each other.

One spirit is about recognition.
One body is about communication.

At the heart is one Christ who has made our diversity (individuals and church) his own.

Unity is therefore about the one Christ, his one action and his one outpouring for the Father.

We need to be aware of and develop the recognition and communication in our own church communities.

The search for recognition and communication needs to happen where we are.

Unity is that mysterious something we already possess; something we need to be brought back into.  We can spend effort in exploration and recognition and listening but we should do so in the confidence that we are unified by the one action by Christ. 

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