Oneness

Multi-coloured cross

I prepared the following as an outline for the Act of Worship on Radio Merseyside on 6th October 2013:

As this is an ‘act of worship’ why not take time to read, listen to the music suggested and pray with me at the end…

We are looking at what Oneness might mean for us all across this City Region.

When Jesus left his small band of disciples after his death and resurrection 2000 years ago he told them to go and wait in Jerusalem. He said that God’s power would come upon them. A few weeks later they were together in the now famous ‘upper room’ in Jerusalem. As they waited, God’s Spirit visited them in power causing quite an uproar! From that moment the Church changed from a small group of nervous  people wondering what was happening into a bold, zealous, miracle-working, body of believers. The Jerusalem Bible describes this extraordinary event saying that it happened as they ‘had all met in one room.’

A thousand years earlier the singer songwriter and ruler of Jerusalem, King David, was inspired to write a song about coming together. A song which exclaims that God blesses us when we are united like brothers. Recorded in Psalm 133 it begins:

“How good, how delightful it is

For all to live together like brothers..”

And the psalm concludes:

“this is where Yahweh confers his blessing, everlasting life.”

These visions lead me to reflect on how God will bless us in our city of Liverpool, and even the City Region if we can really live together in unity. What a wonderful challenge! What a wonderful promise from God that we might take hold of.

Please listen to the words of this song written by the band, Blue Tree from Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has often been used as an example of how badly divided Christians can be. This song looks to the vision of what a City and region could be under God’s blessing.

Blue Tree song “You’re the God of this city”

Isn’t it encouraging to look at God as the God of our city, town or region?

Clearly the Bible view of oneness, unity and community harmony is a picture of God’s blessing on the people.

The Bible does not just simply set out rules for us to follow. More importantly, the Bible shows that what happened at Pentecost 2000 years ago in that upper room was the enabling of the people of God to be His agents of good news in the world.

The church is to be the Body of Jesus, bringing healing, wholeness and living as an example of a loving community.

In the past centuries politics and human agendas have resulted in countless splits and factions so that today there are estimated to be over 25,000 denominational groups who name Jesus as their saviour. This is hardly the example of living together like brothers which the Bible promises will bring blessings!

But! Before we give up hope, there is hope!

All around the world, in every nation and across continents the Church is maturing. As church groups realise the need to cooperate not compete;  Jesus promised to prepare a singular bride, we are seeing new expressions of oneness in so many ways. Not only are the big denominational groups looking for ways to work effectively together, but at community level where we each live, local churches are discovering partnerships and friendships across walls which have divided for decades or centuries.

The prayer which Jesus taught us to pray, which many of us learnt off by heart at school includes the line:

‘Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”

We understand that God’s Kingdom rule is clear and perfected in Heaven. This prayer that Christians have prayed since Jesus taught us, is yearning for the perfection of heaven to be seen on earth.

I chose the next song by Shane Beales because it focuses on Jesus’ word about His Kingdom coming, and Shane wrote the ‘Liverpool Song’ in this city, with God’s purposes for Liverpool in mind.

The refrain goes:

“your Kingdom come, your will be done – oh Lord,

In Liverpool your Spirit rule –  oh God.”

I have been excited to discover that more and more Christian unity movements in cities and towns across Britain are gathering momentum and doing good where they are. We know of church unity movements in more than 85 cities and towns across the UK. These networks and associations are seeking positive relationships between themselves, and at the same time seeking to build healthy relationships with the communities they serve and are part of. The Bible challenges the Church to grow up in terms of unity and it is a huge encouragement to see this happening in our days. The history of Israel describes the people of God being challenged to line up with God’s thinking and come together and put aside personal differences and selfishness. We believe that when we line up our thinking with God’s ways, He is just waiting to bless people and communities.

I was recently sent a poem about this Oneness written by Dennis Wrigley of the Maranatha Community. The Maranatha Community have been praying for church unity in this country for over 30 years.

This is the poem – called “Together”:

If you My people

will come together

in true unity

I will stand in your midst

and you will know

My real presence.

 

If you My people

will come together

as one family

I will reveal Myself to you

as your loving Father.

 

If you My people

will come together

as one flock

I will show Myself to you

as the Good Shepherd.

 

If you My people

will come together

as one, in shared hunger

I will feed you

and I will be for you

the Bread of Life.

 

If you My people

will come together

as one in praise

and acknowledge Me as Lord

I will pour out My Spirit upon you.

 

If you My people

will come together

as one in repentance

You will receive

My forgiveness

and you will be liberated.

 

If you My people

will come together

as one in obedience

and wait upon me

I will raise you as a

mighty army in the land.

 

If you My people

will come together

as one in love,

hand in hand,

My great power to heal

will be released.

 

If you My people

will come together

as one, to listen

you will hear My voice

and you will receive

the Living Word.

 

If you My people

will come together

as one and speak as one

My voice will be heard

throughout the land.

 

If you My people

will gather together

as the one living Body of Christ

you will be transformed

you will be used

as instruments of

faith, hope and love

and your nation will be changed.

 

If you My people

will come together

as one, before My Cross

your chains will fall off

your hearts will be free

you will rise up

and together

follow Me.

 Written by Dennis Wrigley Used by kind permission of the Maranatha Community – September 2013   http://www.maranathacommunity.org.uk/ 

Aren’t those words an inspiration for us all to come together? An inspiration of what might yet be possible?

Jesus taught us to pray that the Kingdom would come to earth as in heaven. He later prayed an amazing prayer for all of us in John 17 verse 21 when he prayed

“May they all be one, Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me, and I am in you.”

Jesus prayed that we would experience the same Oneness that he has with his Father! As we seek to worship God together and pray together in one place and with united hearts, there is a tremendous blessing promised for us. We should have great hope as we observe the true coming together of Christians in every town, city, and nation.

The Church is supposed to be bringing the healing for the nations. Listen to this song written for Come Together 40 years ago, and updated for now by Denis and Lloyd Wade with choirs from across the nation:

SONG: Heal Our Land – featuring Lloyd Wade

As we come together, we can call on God to heal us and for us to bring healing.

Let us pray together:

Lord, you are our creator, and you made us to live in community. Your Body is called to live as your ambassador and servant in the world. We are to be your hands and voice where we live. Would you inspire us to put aside our personal prejudices and opinions to serve others with grace and truth. Would you help your Church, the Church which bears your name, to express Oneness in our land.

 

Lord Jesus, stir up an increased desire in your Body, the Church, to come together in worship and action. Breath again into us as you did at Pentecost in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. Send us out in the power and zeal of the Holy Spirit as you began in that upper room. Let your People carry the blessing of the goodness of God into all our communities as you entrust us with all the more as we live in harmony.

 

Amen.

 

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2 Responses to “Oneness”

  1. Greg Reagan Says:

    EXTREMELY WELL DONE, JOHN!

  2. Jim Palmer Says:

    Beautiful and inspiring. These songs and your words truly make a difference as declarations of our only hope being in God moving on the hearts of his people unifying us as His Body by and in His Holy Spirit. Manmade efforts to do this are futal. Not by power, nor by might but by my Spirit says the Lord.

    Lord of heaven and earth, may you pour out a fresh baptism of your gracious Spirit upon your people so that we are empowered to love one another as you intended and to get a fresh revelation that we are truly one family. This is the only hope for mankind; to see your people radiating your love in unity for each other and for those lost in darkness. Lord let your light of grace and truth that came through Jesus be seen in us your children even now. In the mighty name of Jesus our Messiah.

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