Hopefully there aren't too many people out there in the blogosphere who will be at All Saints' next Sunday because if so you'll be getting a bit of a sneak preview of my thoughts for a sermon on Christian unity.
In my work with other youth workers in the town and the diocese we have to find a common ground on which to meet. It is not only with youth workers from other denominations that this is necessary but also with those from the Anglican church who have a different tradition, theology or style of worship. The recent Windsor report which responded to the divisions resulting from disagreements over the appointment of homosexual priests to senior positions in the church shows how much we need to work on unity even within our own church.
In all these meetings we try to find the common ground. However the common ground is not difficult to find. That common ground is at the foot of the cross. The common ground is where Christ is at the centre.
I’ve been watching the second series of West Wing on DVD recently and in one episode the president meets with a Chinese asylum seeker who claims that he is being persecuted in China for being a Christian. The president has been advised that the refugees may have been coached in basic Christianity to secure asylum.
The president discusses how the Israelites used to use the word Shibboleth as a password to see if those trying to enter were Israelites (as the other local people did not pronounce it as the Israelites did.
Bartlett ponders how he can test whether a man is a Christian or not. In the end he asks the man about how he became a Christian what his church does and who leads it. He asks him to name any of the twelve apostles. The man responds by naming them all. He then turns to the President and says:
"Mr President, Christianity is not demonstrated through a recitation of facts, you’re seeking evidence of faith, a whole hearted acceptance of God’s promise of a better world. 'For we hold that man is justified by faith alone' is what St Paul said, justified by faith alone. Faith is the true Shibboleth."