I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me
— The Beatles (“Come Together” from Abby Road © 1969)
But were not the same
We get to carry each other
— U2 (“One” from Achtung Baby © 1991)
Let’s get together and feel all right
— Bob Marley (“One Love” from Exodus © 1977)
You’ll have to forgive me, but it’s hard to settle on one epigraph when the topic is unity. Unity is a strong theme both inside and outside the church, as these songs demonstrate. I find the emphasis on unity outside the church often shames the church itself. We sit warm and safe inside our schism and throw stones at our 99.5% doctrinally similar neighbours. I’ll stop ranting.
. . .
Israel in Ezekiel’s day had a unity problem. David’s kingdom had split into the Northern kingdom (Israel) and the Southern kingdom (Judah). Israel had been taken into captivity over a century before Ezekiel lived. Now Judah had followed her fate.
It’s interesting that God chose that specific time—just after Judah had fallen captive to Babylon—to state his intentions to reunify his people. Maybe that sort of thought wouldn’t have been entertained if the split nations were both safe in their piece of promise-land. It took a national catastrophe for Israel’s collective mind to realize that their nation could be brought back together.
. . .
Ezekiel was told to take two sticks and write the names of the divided kingdom on the sticks. Then he was to place them together in his hand.
God knew how radical a concept this would be to the exiles, so he warned Ezekiel in advance:
When your people say to you, “Will you not show us what you mean by these?” say to them . . . (v. 18-19, NRSV)
Ezekiel had to tell them that God’s intention was for the North and the South to come out of captivity together. Remember the army of formerly dry bones that Ezekiel saw? That was not just Jerusalem, it was Jerusalem of Judah along with the Northern kingdom rising to meet their glorious unified future.
. . .
There has been talk in the news lately about the Catholic church and the Anglican communion merging. Officials on both sides were quick to say that the media reports sensationalized the truth. I’m well aware of our differences (I am pentecostal!). Still, don’t you find it sad that talk of denominations joining forces is so radical that it raises a sensation in the media? Should the unity of Christ’s earthly body not be normal?
. . .
Blessed Trinity, help me to find ways in my daily life to exhibit unity with the rest of your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.