Humility into Unity

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 — Week of 7 Easter

Nicolaus Copernicus and Johannes Kepler, Astronomers, 1543

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 965)

Psalms 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30 (morning) // 19:121-144 (evening)

Isaiah 4:2-6

Ephesians 4:1-16

Matthew 8:28-34

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

The witness of scripture invites us into interconnectedness, union — what Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hahn calls “interbeing” — the reality that we are all connected with each other in an intimate relationship of unity and interdependence. That’s a theme found in every enduring religion. This passage in Ephesians is one of our Christian treasures about that theme. The upcoming Feast of Pentecost is one of our festivals about that theme.

For Americans, a deep sense of oneness with humanity may be somewhat counter-cultural. We are taught to be independent and self-reliant. We reserve our deepest forms of pride for individual accomplishment.

The writer of Ephesians seems to know this. The appeal for unity begins with an exhortation on behalf of the virtues of humility, gentleness and patience — the precursors to interconnectedness, the antidote to individualistic pride.

It’s not easy to live in a world with other people. Only in a context of humility, gentleness and patience will we be willing to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

It is profound to say there is “one body and one Spirit, …one hope, …one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.” A mystery. And I think it is a mistake to use this hymn of union to divide humanity into a religious “us” and “them,” limiting the Spirit to only the one form of faith and the baptism of our particular religion. I am convinced that there is a greater unity than can be employed by any single religion. God’s Spirit is ubiquitous. With humility, gentleness and patience we can recognize the Spirit universally, in other faiths and baptisms, and honor our interconnectedness.

Our organic union with God’s humanity is the context for the use of our individual gifts. Our call is to grow up, to become mature, to help humanity evolve consciously together as a race. The image is organic. We belong to a body. Each of us are members of that body. We work together to help the body heal and mature. All are included.

Go through this day with an intentional sense of organic unity with each person you encounter. Claim every person you encounter, in person or online, and connect with everyone you read about in the news or see on the television as though they were part of your own body. Begin with an ethos of humility, gentleness and patience. See if you can deepen your connectedness into an experience of being one in union with all. Then use your gifts for the good of the body. See if you don’t experience a more satisfying and deeper context for your own work and actions, in union with all.

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