How good it is to dwell together in unity

I have been involved in two events in the past few weeks, which have been particularly uplifting and encouraging. The first was the Lairg Churches Together Summer Club, which attracted about 35 children to Lairg Community Centre from 7th-9th August. The second was the evensong to at which I was licensed as Priest-in Charge of the Episcopal congregations in Dornoch, Lairg and Tain on 20th August, which packed out St Andrew’s in Tain, somehow fitting in about 90 people. Both attracted large crowds, but I am much more interested in the fact that they were both very much ecumenical events.

The LCT Summer Club employed the talents of Church of Scotland, Free Church, Community Fellowship and Episcopal members to provide a wonderful mix of activity, games, singing, teaching and much more, in a profoundly spirit-filled atmosphere. The adult helpers had as much fun as the children, learned as much as the children and felt God’s love amongst them as much as the children.

He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’” (Matt 18:2-5)

At my licensing there were clergy from the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church as well as from the Episcopal Church. There were lay people from pretty much every denomination and those who for all I know don’t count themselves as Christians. The 18 strong choir assembled by Jamie Campbell was drawn from many different backgrounds. … And a good time was had by all in (you guessed it) a profoundly spirit-filled atmosphere.

This last was in a week when we had heard so much in the media about division, hatred and prejudice, yet it was the lack of all three that struck me about these two wonderful and well attended events. Both remind us that we have so much more in common that we have dividing us, if only we allow ourselves to see it, to feel it and to live out our oneness in Christ.

At the service last Sunday evening, one of the intercessory prayers was a favourite of mine from the Scottish Prayer Book, that captures my feelings exactly:

O GOD the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord: that, as there is but one Body, and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may henceforth be all of one heart, and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May God bless you all no matter who you are.

James

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