As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Eph 4:1 NIV)
The apostle St. Paul is imprisoned in Rome and thinks about his congregation in Ephesus – the Christian Church there. He’s concerned about their calling or more precisely about their life, which is to be worthy of their received calling. We too have been called to be part of the one holy Christian Church and therefore to the communion and union of her various parts – amongst Jews and gentiles. The Church has been called to a large variety of parts and members and still to preserve perfect harmony and union. It is her calling to overcome the divisiveness of diversity and to rather strive for the perfect communion in unity and harmony. That means the diversity is to be seen as part of the richness, wealth and splendor of the Church – which is very different to boring uniformity and bland sameness – and is to be utilized for the one holy mission of the Church – to gain as many as possible from the ends of the earth to enter the kingdom of God, the one holy Christian Church. It is therefore the calling from diversity to unity, yes from opposition and conflicting differences to the unity of Spirit, baptism, faith and truth. Everybody who is ruled inwardly by the one Holy Spirit and outwardly by the one Lord Jesus Christ and thus stands under the care and grace of the one Holy God and Father in heaven has all and every reason to view those as brothers and sisters, who say and believe the same of themselves – despite all those special differences, peculiarities and idiosyncrasies, which might catch our sense and distract us from the underlying baptismal and sacramental unity to which we have been called. Therefore you too are to recognize your special calling that you have as member of the Christian congregation and Church of Jesus Christ. You are called to unity and harmony and also to life according to this high and special calling!
Holy, eternal God, you have given us the clear command by your dearly beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ to persist in your given unity of faith and life – just as he is one with you. Look graciously upon us, who have been assembled before you and are praying for the unity of the Church and its many different members and parts. We call upon you: Be in our midst with your Holy Spirit. Grant us your wisdom from above that we don’t persist in our own ways, but rather follow your guidance only. Give us strength and patience to persist and continue even if we don’t realize any progress or success. Grant us humility not to seek our own honor or gain, but rather your honor and to serve our brothers and sisters. More than anything though grant us that love of your love, that does not seek its own, but rather the good of our brothers and sisters and care for them with all we have. Amen. (G.Mensching)
May God bestow on us his grace and favour To please him with our behaviour And live together here in love and union Nor repent this blest communion. O Lord, have mercy! Let not your good Spirit forsake us, But that heavenly minded he make us; Give you Church, Lord, to see Days of Peace and unity. O Lord, have mercy! (Martin Luther)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for the seventeenth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 334 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.