United or Separate?

From the primal elements you brought forth the human race, and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us the rulers of creation. But we turned against you and betrayed your trust; and we turned against one another.

Have mercy, Lord, for we are sinners in your sight.

We begin as an egg and sperm, sourced from two different people. We are born unfinished and dependent, requiring others to love us and teach us how to be human. This brings the gift of memory, allowing us to learn when we do things the right way and when we don’t. This brings the gift of reason – something that must be fostered over many years, something that can be damaged or encouraged. This brings the gift of skill, the talent and ability to build and change the world in countless ways.

What happens when we forget that we cannot be who we are without others – and that others cannot be who they are without us? What happens when we decide that our survival and our gain is about getting rid of others rather than acknowledging that we are dependent on others? What happens when we make ourselves rulers of creation without remembering that a loving God made us? What happens when we forget that we are not self-created?

When we turn against others, thinking it will be to our advantage in some way, we damage ourselves as well as others in the process. Who we are will always be tied to everyone else. When we remember that we began in God’s embrace, just as all things did, we just might pause long enough to see in the face of another our own lives. We begin biologically in others, we grow with others, and we die into the great community of all living things. Returned to God, forgiven and embraced.

Have mercy on us, Lord. Help us remember our common creation, use our reason to honor and love others, and our skill to build a world where every living thing is treated as your precious child. We can’t do it without you. Amen.

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “United or Separate?”

  1. I do so love Eucharistic Prayer C and thank you for pondering on it. I sent this out to your old C&C group here and for Tidings this month:

    “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”

    As we continue the study of the Nicene Creed in Coffee&Conversation, we come to the last section, parts of which have sometimes been misunderstood. Why do we need a “church” anyway when we can pray on our own and worship God wherever we might be? I can remember a previous rector at St. John’s asking a parishioner, whom he had not seen at church services for awhile, why he had been absent for so long, to which the person responded that he thought the church was full of hypocrites (literally from the Greek meaning “actors” or pretenders), to which the priest responded: “Well, sure…and sometimes if you pretend long enough you actually ‘get it’—why not come on back and join the rest of us who are trying to ‘get it’?”
    When we discussed the need for communal worship in Confirmation class this year, we decided it was like a charcoal fire where the coals need to be together in order “catch fire”. If you have a fire going and separate a coal from the fire, it quickly dies out. And so we have the “body of Christ” as the Apostle Paul calls the Church—a body that needs all of its parts in order to function best. As the author of the text we are using in our studies, Luke Timothy Johnson, puts it: “Christian salvation does not pertain only to individuals. It is not given so that some people might be transformed and others not, or some go to heaven and others go to hell. In Scripture, salvation is understood in communal terms…Because of this, the focus of Christian attention ought to be neither the headlines (as though salvation were a matter of changing social structure) nor our navels (as though salvation were a matter of cultivating my private spirituality), but the arena that God is ‘working out [our] salvation.’ (Phil 2: 12-13)”. In essence, we are confessing that the Church is that arena when we say the Nicene Creed.
    We will be looking at each qualifier in the title above : one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Come join us at C&C every Wednesday morning at 9 as we continue to meet throughout the summer.

    Soli Deo Gloria,

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