Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Social Media and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

It's a funny thing. I am sitting in the coffee shop of a national chain of gymnasia, wheezing, and rather than exercising, am preparing a sermon for a service in church tonight. I am also 'riding' Twitter (as one does) following the hashtag #wpcu2012 . For those who don't speak the Masoretic language of Twitter, it is a label that connects all thoughts on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. 

And it's my day off! 

As I ponder this idea of Christian Unity, especially on a day when we commemorate the life of an Egyptian monk (St. Antony) and the life of an Oxford academic who was part of the Tractarian Movement (Charles Gore), it is clear that for as many Christian who have lived and breathed on this earth, there are as many variables of this living faith of ours. Yes, we conglomerate into denominations, and those denominations have some similarities, but in the end, the great joy of holding a faith in Christ is that we can all be different. 

The theme for the Week of Prayer this year is that of 'change'. Let me get this straight: we are all different, seek unity, while at the same time aspiring to change. Sounds like a game of ecclesiastical Twister to me, but like all challenges to our faith, is one that commits not just our efforts but those of the God we adore in common. I wonder if the change that is called for is simply that we embrace our differences in the comfort of the overwheleming matters that we hold in common. 

This brings me to social media, and a drum I bang often. Among my Twitter friends, and those whose blogs I read or who are kind enough to read mine, are Christians of every flavour and pursuasion. I am a Christian of a specific brand, and those who know me know my preferences in worship, in ecclesial attire, in hymnody, in theological nuance. In the gander scheme, none of those things are important, and simply choices that appeal to me. Social media doesn't really care for any of that, yet accommodates all of it. Twitter and Facebook care not a jot that I am a contemporary breed of Anglo Catholic, and in many ways that is good. I share thoughts and debate with many Christians (and those who have no faith) and most of the time, the labels are simply of no importance. 

I don't think a week of prayer for Christian Unity is, or should be, about us all being the same. Life would be turgid and dull if we were. A week of prayer for unity is a week to celebrate what we hold in union and that we carry in hands each pair distinct from the next. I don't want to be a Roman Catholic and I am sure that my Catholic friends have no desire to be Anglican. We are who we are and we are as the Lord has called us. Imagine an orchestra if every one of the gifted musicians played the same instrument. Yes, there would be music, but the repertoire would be rather limited.


  1. Formatting has gone awry. Will sortmoutnwhen I get home, sorry - blame my iPad!

  2. I hear a number of people express this kind of view, but I'm always left wondering how we square it with creedal faith in one church? I'm all in favour of diversity of styles in worship etc. but when we're still at the point that our different traditions have difficulty recognising each other as sharing the fullness of what it is to be church then I think there is still something of the need for closer fellowship and relationship. At the moment, it doesn't look (IMO) as if that's going anywhere fast, but I don't think that allows us to abandon it.



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