The service of Holy Baptism begins with these words:
There is one Body and one Spirit;
There is one hope in God’s call to us;
One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism;
One God and Father of all.
One God. That’s pretty easy to get behind.
One Spirit. Again, check.
One Faith. That’s harder. Global Christianity consists of more denominations than I can count, and the range of beliefs is great. Are we comfortable saying there is one faith?
One Body. Again, hard. We can feel pretty divided from each other. Jesus even says that we will be divided. Yet we affirm that we are one body, the Body of Christ. What binds our diversity into one body?
One Hope. Whatever our particular beliefs, whatever rituals we prefer, we are people who share one hope. That God, whatever name we use, is love. Love that creates and recreates. Love that sustains and nurtures. Love that redeems and resurrects. Love that desires the flourishing of every person, of all creation. Love that plants hope in our hearts, so that it may draw us deeper into love with God and all people.
Because we are a part of the Body of Christ, our community of St. Mary’s by-the-Sea is intimately connected with other faith communities, locally and globally. We are part of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion. We also have ecumenical partners in our work and ministry, close to home and further afield.
We are working with St. Dunstan’s, Carmel Valley, on programs that nurture our kids, youth, and families. Our Church of the Wild Blue Yonder is a partnership with the Disciples of Christ and the United Methodist Church. First Presbyterian Church members participate in our Christian Social Concerns ministry. Through our Walking Together ministry, we join with other faith-based communities in the county to work for systemic changes that improve the lives of all of our neighbors.
These partnerships don’t mean that we all agree on everything. They mean that in spite of whatever disagreements we may have, we are united in hope to act as one body – the Body of Christ, given for the life of the world. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’”
Look in the mirror. Just as your body is one, yet made up of many parts working together, so we are as the Body of Christ. Let’s celebrate our collaborations, and look for new ones. We are enriched and strengthened when we invite others into the work we feel called to, and when we respond to invitations to work that others are called to. We are one body, united by and in God’s love, sustained by one spirit, compelled by one hope that it would be on earth, as it is in heaven.