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Reflections

The Unity of the Spirit

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:3-6 (NIV)

This morning after steady snowfall throughout the night, our backyard is an endless sheet of white, disrupted only by the paw prints of our jolly pup, Izzy. Heavy snow covers every rock and every tree. The boundary place where our yard meets our patio is completely missing now, so blanketed in precipitation.

That blanket of white has a way of burying the filth of frozen mud and the dozen shades of brown that make up the Midwestern color palette this time of year. The snow transforms the landscape, from one disrupted and decaying, into a frozen, bright, crisp, still wonderland. 

This doesn’t happen in one fell swoop, God shaking loose a folded sheet of white and draping it gently across the frozen world. No, it takes billions, trillions, even quadrillions of individual flakes to come together and create a vast blank canvas across the land. Their unique fractals fall and stack, one on top of the other, until they are unified through the bond of peace.

There’s a flurry of millions of different Christians blustering about in the world. We have our different views and opinions, our different gifts and talents, our different homes and needs. But when we keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace, we demonstrate to the hurting world the one hope to which we were called: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

That blanket of white diminishes the blemishes and coats us in the white snow of redemption. Oh my soul, rejoice.

Points of Reflection

  1. In what ways has God’s grace fallen on you, like a blanket of snow, to cover your sins and made you new? Take note of the ways God has saved you and thank God for those today.
  2. Is there someone  in your community or church who practices their faith differently than you? Perhaps you find yourself at odds with them over personality differences or something you can’t quite put your finger on. How can you apply the message of unity to that relationship this week?
  3. What are other ways God has designed Creation to demonstrate the unity of the Spirit?

For the Kids

  1. How many flakes of snow do you think it takes to cover your backyard? Watch this video and find out together.  
  2. What do you think it means to be unified through the Spirit of God? What does that look like in your family, at school, or at church?

Faith / Works 

Snowy Climates: Snow transforms the world into a winter playground. Get out and enjoy the brisk air, alone or with your family. Notice and discuss how the world sounds different, looks different, feels different, maybe even smells different when it is cold and/or snowy.

Warmer Climates: Snow is frozen water, after all, so find a body of water. Reflect on the way water must come together, just like snow, to form a lake or an ocean, and what is grown or sustained by that body of water. Spend time meditating on the unity of the Spirit through the bonds of peace.

Readings

I think we sometimes underestimate the vastness and inclusiveness of Paul’s words at the end of today’s Scripture verses: one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Richard Rohr explores this in greater depth in his book, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For and Believe. Here are a few words from Rohr, “A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone else. That is a definition that will never fail you, always demand more of you, and give you no reasons to fight, exclude, or reject anyone.” Check out Rohr’s daily meditations from the Center for Action and Contemplation, or access The Universal Christ for more ways to be challenged to live into the unity of the Spirit.


Listen or read online through your local library’s Libby app, or buy on Amazon or through a local independent bookstore.