I ask not only behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:20-21
This Sunday’s gospel includes part of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, from the Twelve down to us who believe today. After Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, teaches them servanthood and gives them a new commandment, “to love one another as he has loved them,” Jesus prays for them.
The tender love of the Master for those who believe is displayed in this beautiful prayer from John’s gospel. To cherish Christ’s love is to love one another, to be one.
Christians have not fully realized this One-ness since… well, probably the beginning. Human nature takes over more than it ought. Most Christians, myself included, have often thought everyone had to believe or worship exactly the same way in order to achieve this One-ness for which Jesus prays.
But this One-ness is not about sameness. It is about relationship. It is about love. It is about believing that the power of God’s love is stronger than evil and hatred. It is about forgiveness and striving to see Christ in one another and in our neighbor. Made in God’s image, we were created to love one another as God loves us. We strive for the One-ness, not for our sake, but for the world to know and experience God’s love, too.
This past Sunday, both Risen Lord Lutheran Church (ELCA) and Tapestry Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations voted to approve terms of a creative mortgage that moves us closer to an intentional relationship. It’s a relationship that begins with sharing a building, but that’s not all to come from it. It is a relationship, spoken, not yet fully realized, of possible ministry sharing.
The agreement on paper we see necessary legalese, particularly in the case of “what happens if this doesn’t work?” The life of the document is behind the people of God from two unique and faithful congregations and traditions who are looking to the Holy Spirit to grow a relationship so as to deepen our similar missions to share God’s love, for the sake of the world.
What if this friendship between a Lutheran and a Disciples of Christ congregation is not just answer to our prayers, but even more so, an answer to Christ’s?