Unity - John Riester

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. - Galatians 3:28

With the wealth of ideological battles in our modern life, all too often our differences and divisions are emphasized. We get caught in our own “bubble”; a comfort zone that not only insulates us, but also cripples our ability to seek out similarities with those who are “different.”

At the 8:15 and 11:00 services last Sunday we sang one of my all-time favorite hymns. It incorporates the Galatians scripture with 1 Corinthians:

One bread, one body, one Lord of all,

One cup of blessings which we bless.

And we, though many throughout the earth,

We are one body in this one Lord.

Chalice Hymnal (CH) 393, Refrain Only

To the best of my recollection, this was the first hymn I ever accompanied in a worship service. I was in middle school and participating in Youth Sunday at Allisonville Christian Church in Indianapolis. This was at the time the Chalice Hymnal was published in the mid 1990’s. I practiced and practiced to get the music ready for worship. It was to be during communion. After we sang, I played the music of the hymn as background for what seemed like fifty more times. Let’s just say the tune, which is already pretty memorable, was stuck in my head for weeks!

When we sing hymns and worship songs, we join our voices together in union. This heightens our worship experience and reminds us we are ‘all one in Christ Jesus.’ But, as we praise God with song, we are not just praising the Creator from our block of Edmond, Oklahoma, but also joining in unity with all humanity, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.

Grain for the fields, scattered and grown,

gathered to one, for all

CH 393, Verse 3

This verse is not from Paul, rather a paraphrase from the 2nd Century manual on church and morals called the Didache. The original excerpt (which is conveniently CH #394), makes for a nice prayer for unity:

As the bread which we break

Was scattered over the mountains

And when brought together became one,

So let your church be brought together

From the ends of the earth into your eternal realm;

For yours is the glory and the power

Through Jesus Christ for evermore

Didache IX. 4


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