Living in Unity

How good and pleasant it is when brothers (God’s people) live in unity. Psalm 133:1

On this election day, we seem to be very far from this vision of life that the Psalmist presented to us roughly 3000 years ago. I believe that every one of us is likely counting the minutes until we are no longer hit with a ceaseless barrage of negative political advertising, getting phone calls asking us to vote, donate to campaigns or volunteer. We are very divided within our country in terms of priorities, news sources and political preferences, and show anything but unity.

Are we ever going to demonstrate that unity in our society? Probably not anytime in the near future. There are many people who hold views that I cannot understand and have little sympathy for, and I know that they have an equally difficult time understanding my perspective, often to the point that we even question each other’s judgement and motives. We are a long way from unity, certainly in the large societal scale, but often even within our extended families.

Terry Hershey recently had some good advice for us when we are overwhelmed by problems and negativity in the “big world” – focus on “small world”, the world in which we immediately participate. We generally do a pretty good job of that in the God’s Grace family, getting involved where we are able with groups like Open Door, Confluence, the Gathering Place and Paris Elementary School, but I would like to challenge each of us to try what could be a more difficult step toward the Psalmist’s vision of unity. I would like to find a way to open up a mutually respectful conversation with some of my brothers and sisters (or cousins in my case), with whom I have strong political and faith expression differences, and genuinely try to understand why they have made the choices they make. This may be risky, but I don’t know how we will bridge the divides within both country and even with the Christian church, if we don’t talk with each other and really try to listen to the other’s perspectives. (This is probably better done in one on one, face to face conversations than around the Thanksgiving dinner table). I may be naïve, but I believe that there must be points where we can experience a greater degree of unity than we do now. I would like to experience what the Psalmist is talking about – “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people dwell in unity”.

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life
Amen

For more hope regarding this challenge, please see the guest column by retired Episcopal Bishop William Winterrowd on p.17 of today’s Denver Post

Dave Erickson-Pearson

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