Gen 37:5-8 Listen to this dream that I dreamed.
Ps 126 We were like those who dream.
Rom 12:9-13 Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour.
Jn 21:25 The world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
Christian disunity hurts. Churches suffer from their inability to be united as one family at the Lord’s Table; they suffer from rivalry and from histories of combativeness. One individual response to disunity emerged in 2005 in the form of an ecumenical journal: Kas Mus Vieno? (“What unites us?”). The experience of producing the journal inspired this reflection.
Joseph has a dream, which is a message from God. However, when Joseph shares his dream with his brothers, they react with anger and violence because the dream implies that they must bow down before him. Ultimately famine drives the brothers to Egypt and they do bow before Joseph, but rather than the abasement and dishonour they fear, it is a moment of reconciliation and grace.
Jesus, like Joseph, unfolds to us a vision, a message about the life of his Father’s kingdom. It is a vision of unity. But like Joseph’s brothers, we are often upset, angered and fearful of the vision and what it seems to imply. It demands that we submit and bow to the will of God. We fear it because we fear what we might lose. But the vision is not about loss. Rather, it is about regaining brothers and sisters we had lost, the reuniting of a family.
We have written many ecumenical texts, but the vision of Christian unity is not captured in agreed statements alone, important though these are. The unity God desires for us, the vision he puts before us, far exceeds anything we can express in words or contain in books. The vision must take flesh in our lives and in the prayer and mission that we share with our brothers and sisters. Most of all it is realised in the love we show for one another.
What does it mean to place our own dreams for Christian unity at the feet of Christ?
In what ways does God’s vision of unity call the churches to renewal and change today?
God of wisdom, grant us humility to hear your voice, to receive your call, and to share your dream for the unity of the Church. Help us to be awake to the pain of disunity. Where division has left us with hearts of stone, may the fire of your Holy Spirit inflame our hearts and inspire us with the vision of being one in Christ, as he is one with you, so that the world may believe that you have sent him. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.