By David Bent; Team Rector
As we watch the situation in Ukraine unfold, we see a people formerly united as one nation now dividing into those who see their future allied more towards the West and those who see their future allied with Russia. Closer to home we await the vote in Scotland for, or against, Scottish independence, where a ‘Yes’ vote would end over 300 years of united government that followed the formation of the United Kingdom in 1707.
I guess few of us here in South Yorkshire can influence either situation, except through prayer, but we should pray for wisdom, righteousness, peace and grace for all those involved and affected by these situations.
But the underlying roots of these situations are common to us all as the quest for power comes up against the desire for independence and a yearning for change challenges the status quo. We see it in family relations, local and national politics, we see it in our communities and workplaces, and we can see it in the church.
As a church we have a responsibility to work for unity with diversity. Jesus prayed for unity and St Paul describes the Church as the Body of Christ, where Jesus himself is the head and we are the individual parts of his body, each with a unique role to play. Within a body it is the unity of the many parts that gives it its strength, while it is the diversity of each part that gives it its flexibility and its beauty.
I rejoice in the journey we have made together as the four churches in The Rivers Team and I pray that we may continue to enjoy the diversity that we have together within the unity that we share. But our responsibility for unity goes further. In his death and resurrection, Jesus destroyed the barrier that separated individuals from God and, in doing so, broke down the barriers that separate individuals from each other. And when Jesus returned to heaven and sent his Holy Spirit on his Church, he commissioned us to continue this ministry of reconciliation. Maybe not in Ukraine or in Scotland, but certainly in our homes and in our communities.
In the words of St Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
“Where there is discord, harmony.