Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thanksgiving for Episcopal-Moravian Full Communion

A Celebration of Holy Eucharist in Thanksgiving for Full Communion between the Moravian Church and the Episcopal Church
Thursday, October 20, 2011
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Fargo


John 17.6a,15-23

+ I feel real joy tonight, on our last evening of celebrating Full Communion between the Moravian Church and the Episcopal Church. These last five weeks have truly been joyful. I think all of us who have participated have found ourselves pondering the differences between our particular congregations and our denominations.

And there are differences. I think we’ve kind of joked among ourselves about those differences. I still remember with a bit humor the look on those Moravians’ faces the night of our Episcopal Class here at St. Stephen’s and how shocked all of you were by how outspoken us Episcopalians can be. That’s just who we are.

And I know that we Episcopalians were very impressed by the Love Feast last week, in which, right in the middle of the worship service, we paused to eat together.

But differences make us unique and the differences between us, I think, only show for us that diversity that we get to celebrate. What I have especially enjoyed is celebrating what we have in common. And what we have in common is a deep, almost driving longing to serve God and to serve others. Each of us do that in the worship we do, and in the service and the minsisrties we give to others. We do this as followers of Jesus.

And it is Jesus who really makes us one. In Jesus we find those differences between us blurred. And in Jesus we find those similarities between us highlighted.

In our Gospel reading for tonight, we hear Jesus pray,

“The glory you have given me I have given to them, so that they may be one…”

Tonight, and over these past few weeks, we are celebrating that glory that has been given to us. We are rejoicing in that oneness that comes to followers of Jesus who strive to love God and love others. In Christ, we are one. And that, ultimately, when all has been said and done, is all that matters.

Of course, the celebration doesn’t need to end here, tonight. This, hopefully, opens the door for future opportunities of shared ministry and shared celebration. My hope tonight is that we WILL be one, as Christ calls to be. We will be one in our service to others and in our service to God. And that we will be one in striving for those goals of making known to others that incredible love of God.

So, as we go from here, let us go with smiles on our faces. Let us go with joy in our hearts. And let us go with the knowledge that we, together, are doing what Jesus called us to do. As we heard Jesus say in our Gospel reading tonight, we pray that we may “become truly one, so that the world may know that [God] has sent Christ and that [God] loves us as [God] loves [Christ].”

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