“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).

While on the run from King Saul, and hiding in the Wilderness of Judah, On Sunday morning, I was at St. Paul, Defiance to lead worship. It was their 150th anniversary. We were planning a real celebration, and we did celebrate, but not as we hoped. Pastor Dave Brobston said it quite eloquently:

“Today was not the 150th anniversary that any of us envisioned. We had plans for cake and barbecue, singing and celebration. Today was supposed to be a grand party. However, with the limits we all face, we did what we had to do, and in spite of those limits we were truly blessed.”

Defiance County is currently at a Level 3 (Ohio Public Health Advisory System), and the Parish Plan at St. Paul, Defiance, suspends in-person worship when the county reaches a Level 3.

Instead of a full Sanctuary, there were 8 of us spread out in a large worship space. Two pastors. One organist. One lector/cantor. One assistant. Three video / audio folks. Actually, there were 9 of us. Because God was truly present. Present in the Word. Present in the gathered community. And present in the love this parish has for its members and community. When we bear with one another in love, we may not always get what we want, and things don’t always turn out how we hoped or planned, but it does help us foster God’s call to unity.

Unity is hard to come by these days. Division seems to be the theme. Divided families. Divided neighbors. Divided parishes. A divided nation. How did we get here? What have we become?

When St. Paul writes to the Church in Ephesus, one of his main points is God’s call for unity. Unity does not mean we are all of one mind or agreement, it simply means that we are connected by a common mission and striving towards the same destination.

And unity always begins with you and me. By living the life God calls us to live. A life marked by humility, gentleness, patience, and love (Ephesians 4:2). Are there places in your life and work that the characteristics of humility, gentleness, patience, and love might just bridge the gap between division and unity? What are ways we can daily remind ourselves of our common mission?