So how has your week been going? I’ve been asked that a lot lately, and I appreciate it. People are seeing that not only is this time busy for pastors, but it’s also busy for parents. And luckily for me, I’m both.
My kids have been hanging in there, but lately I’ve noticed patterns in their moods. The ABSOLUTE worst time to joke around with them because they are most impatient is in the morning right when they wake up, when it’s a meal time and they’re hungry, right after we announce it’s time to take a break from their screens, during their screen time because anything is disturbing them, when they are off screens for about 2 hours and they are itching to go back, and right before bedtime when it is too late. So basically that leaves this teeny tiny window of around 3:30-3:31pm when all bets are off and horseplay is allowed.
I’m just kidding, they’ve been doing pretty well. But that doesn’t mean they don’t fight. They don’t fight a lot (regardless of how much I joke about it), but when they do, man alive is it ever silly. Someone blames someone else for something that clearly isn’t their fault. Someone accuses someone of doing something on purpose when it was clearly an accident. Someone starts yelling at someone for doing exactly what was asked of them but apparently were doing it “wrong”.
Sound familiar? Well, it should. It seems like most of the arguments adults get into these days are around blaming, accusations, or just trying to act like the “know-it-all”.
And, as I’ve noticed with my kids, maybe we’d all get along better if we just took it down a notch and learned that maybe we’re not all that different in that we’re all not always right. Our way might not always be the best, and our opinions might only be held by us. And that is ok, because as a family unit, I see how we must rely on each other’s strengths and admit our own weaknesses. And if there is anything I learned as an adult, that is that we ALL have weaknesses.
We are at the end of the Easter season, where we remember Jesus ascending into heaven and we look ahead to the work of the Spirit in the church and in the world. And as Jesus departs, he says a prayer for his disciples (and in turn, for us). This is known as the High Priestly Prayer (no, not Elvis Presley Prayer, as cool as that would be), as Jesus’ words are among the most priestly of what we have recorded.
And in the center of this portion of the prayer, Jesus prays for unity.
Now, I think there is confusion around what “unity” could mean. I think most people would think that to be united is for all people to agree. Or in some extreme cases, that all people agree with us.
And thus, the fighting starts again. Arguments about who is right, what doctrine is correct, or even what Jesus really meant when he said whatever he said. The ironic part of that is I don’t think Jesus ever wanted us to argue in his name. Discuss, wrestle, and digest, sure… but not argue.
Maybe I’m taking too much of a pacifist approach here, but I’m thinking that Jesus’ idea of unity was more around love, around service, and around community. And all you married folk out there know that agreeing certainly isn’t a prerequisite for love. It might help, but it doesn’t always happen (even if we pretend it does just to shut our partner up). Yet we still love because we choose to love. We still serve our families, our friends, and our neighbours because we choose to serve. We still live in community because we have been invited, welcomed, and identified as such.
Many people worry about the number of denominations we have out there, the many different understandings of the scriptures, and the vast variety of worship practices and theological nuances that they feel we aren’t united enough. But I would rather think that us claiming the same name in spite of difference, us holding onto the one everlasting promise of love and grace, and us believing in the eternal welcome into God’s kingdom that drives us to be witnesses to God is unity enough, and we can see past our difference and instead revel in the fact that even in our shortcomings, God has chosen to love us.
Let us see how God has graciously united us in love and relationship and hold that up over our need to be right or agreed with.
Have a great week, everyone!