Every year at this time, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples and, by extension, all Christians and followers of Jesus today:
“That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” – John 17:21
… and invited to pray for the Unity of the Christian Church as a witness to the World of the love of Jesus for them.
My parents were brought up to be hardline protestants who viewed the Roman Catholic church as the arch-enemy, and they were appalled at the idea of ecumenicism, believing it to be some kind of nefarious plot of the devil to “mix truth with error”, and they looked with horror at the spectre of some future “One World Church” with the Pope as head, and government-controlled and sanctioned beliefs.
I’m still a protestant (which essentially means that I do not accept the authority of the Roman Catholic church over the whole church), but I have grown to respect and appreciate much about the Catholic and Orthodox churches. I count many Roman Catholics as my closest friends. I can see beauty and meaning in a lot of the things that my traditions have rejected.
I don’t necessarily agree with everything that I learn though of course.
But actually, ecumenicism isn’t about joining together to throw off doctrine so we can fully agree with each other – I think that, if we did, we would all be poorer, with a wishy-washy, watered down version of the faith that ends up having less power and impact because of it.
No. In fact, we don’t need to agree with each other. We don’t even really need to fully understand each other.
What we do need to do, however, is to love each other.
“By this all men will know that ye are my disciples – that ye love one another.”
Of course, understanding may help, and so Kernow Community is my humble attempt to invite people – Christians and non-Christians – whatever your background or denomination, who are interested in looking at the roots of our faith, to see where we have come from, how we have developed differently over the last 2000 years, and to learn to love and respect each other despite our differences.
Resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity can be downloaded from Churches Together in Britain & Ireland here.
From the World Council of Churches here.
From the Vatican here.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!” – Psalm 133:1