One in Spirit, Not in Fact

by | Jan 18, 2015 | Ordinary

Around this time 32 years ago I was the first ordained “woman-minister” to stand with an open-hearted Roman Catholic priest on the altar of his parish church in Georgetown, PEI. It created a lot of talk – and quiet hope. In those days.

I am remembering this as we enter into the octave of days known as Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

I am recalling too, liturgical words from the Iona Community, an ecumenical Christian community, spoken at the Table each Sunday in the presence of the ‘world’ who had come off the ferries for this celebration of Holy Communion:

We cannot celebrate the feast of your family
and forget our divisions.
We are one in the spirit, but not in fact.
History and hurt still dismember us. (Wee Worship Book)

This special season for prayer among Christian churches began forming in the late 18th century. In 1980, the Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury set aside the days for prayer for unity. In 1908 the octave, January 18-25 was observed. This is a long time of praying. I can easily touch the discouragement in my heart. History and hurt still dismember us. Institutions change with creaking slowness.

Thirty two years ago, I likely would have called “us” to the early days of the Jesus movement and the unity of being in one place, with one heart-in-Christ.

Now I know. We can’t look back. Our hope for unity rests, not just within the small circle of Christianity but within deep inter-spirituality, the “messy complexity” of sharing meaning, mystery and contemplative being among many, many spiritual traditions.

This Week of Prayer for Christian Unity I will pray for unity within the small cup that is Christianity. And re-member the River that fills all wells.




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  1. Thank you, Janice. Your words inspire.

  2. A rich and meaningful gift as we begin the days -thank you Janice.

  3. I like these thoughts. Also true in our Pastoral Charge where we are still hurting from events of 2014. No Interim minister, no full time minister, no appointment from Presbytery. Grateful for the minister who comes as Sunday Supply.


  4. There is a quote from an anonymous Hopi Elder…..”WE are the ones we have been waiting for.” So, during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I shall pray for All of us to come together as One, taking our place in the Flow of Life. That we may BE as we are meant to be…..together in love, friendship, community, compassion, and acceptance for ALL.

  5. Thanks Kathy. I appreciate that word, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” And the expression of your prayer.

  6. Yes…the small cup in the much larger river…this is the lesson my heart is opening up to embrace. Thank you.

  7. Jance – a very moving reflection as we try to find the common spiritual health that flows like a river from the heart of
    God – I struggle often with our separations in language, meaning and welcoming. A time of trying to find the unifying
    energy of the Spirit is crucial in our time, I feel. Jim St.Clair

  8. very good words, Jim, keep them coming!

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