From the quiet retreat of Northumbria in early September, we moved to the hustle and bustle of London in early October, where we joined 1,000 other Christian leaders from all over the UK and other parts of the world at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. The event was a two-day conference entitled ‘Movement Day’ (yes… we know…), where we learnt about some of the exciting things that God is doing through churches and groups of very different traditions working well in partnership together for the sake of the Gospel.
Speakers came from Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Quaker-style and Eastern Orthodox traditions, amongst others; and from business as well as church circles. All had a passion for the unity of God’s Church for the sake of the Gospel, and all had a story to tell about how God is at work in towns and cities around the world, drawing Christians together in prayer, worship and action as a sign of God’s transforming love for the world. The attached link describes just some of the stories that we heard: – http://movementday.uk/the-conversation/
A common theme that ran through these stories was the unpalatable truth that Christian unity is not a simple ‘quick fix’ that occurs overnight. Some required acts of sacrificial love and forgiveness before anything could happen. Almost every story involves Christians praying and working together over the course of five, ten, twenty years or more before the real impact of their movement for unity was seen. The prospect of having to wait so long for God to work might understandably fill us with a real sense of frustration and hopelessness.
But what if we look at things another way? What if we ask ourselves, ‘where and how have Christians been working and praying faithfully together in our community over the last five, ten or twenty years, for which the time of harvesting the fruit of their labours is just approaching?’ Henry and Richard Blackaby, in their book ‘Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God’, highlight the importance of identifying where God is already at work around us, and then joining in with him. If we adopt that approach, we will find fulfilment through playing our part in what God is doing now, as well as in preparing for the future.
Jesus knows about praying over the long term. Two thousand years ago, he prayed for every Christian of every denomination, ‘I pray… for those who will believe in me…, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’ John 17:20-21. If God is answering that prayer now through unity movements in towns and cities around the world, we want to be part of it… don’t you?
With our love and prayers
Matthew & Pauline Scott