On the day that we celebrated the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on ‘Parthians, Medes, Elamites’ and the rest, it was a joy to share our diocesan worship with Egyptian Copts, Kenyan Anglicans, Danish Lutherans and the ecumenical Church of Pakistan! There’s something about being a part of a global family – and one that transcends our denominational differences – that brings immense encouragement whenever we encounter it. It is indeed both ‘good’ and ‘pleasant’ when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1).
It’s not just been our diocesan worship either. As I’ve tuned into a number of our parish services, I’ve been heartened to see contributions from other local churches and from mission partners around the world. In a couple I’ve come across, the local Anglican and Baptist churches have teamed up for a morning service; in a good many more, mission partners have contributed to the prayers or the preaching; and the current crisis has begun to strengthen our relationships in other ways too, as participants in a regional ecumenical Zoom meeting were reflecting on last week. In one of our towns, for example, all the church leaders now meet for prayer daily; in others the community effort is being spearheaded by a coalition of local churches.
It’s good, it’s pleasant, but what a powerful witness too to a nation that is tuning into our online offerings in remarkable numbers: that the churches are not so much competitors in a religious marketplace as brothers and sisters in Christ. Working towards such unity can be hard work on occasions, of course, and challenge our innate tendency to rivalry and competitiveness, but it’s also infinitely worthwhile: ‘for there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life for evermore’.