Beloved in Christ,
The gospel for this coming Sunday, from John 17, is part of what is known as Jesus' high priestly prayer. On the night before he dies, Jesus has given his disciples instructions for how they are to live together in love after his ascension. In the high priestly prayer, he asks that God the Father will protect them, and that they will be one, just as Jesus and the Father are one.
What does it mean for us to "be one" as Jesus prays? We are a diocese of extraordinary diversity. We come from diverse ethnic, cultural, racial groups. We worship on any given Sunday in at least five different languages. We are spread across ninety-four faith communities in every corner of the state, grounded in utterly unique local contexts. We are situated in a larger cultural environment that is deeply divided. What does it mean in the midst of all of this for us to "be one?"
Our unity is not something we achieve by thinking alike or agreeing with one another. Our unity is not a matter of every Minnesota Episcopalian adhering with their brain to every point of creed and doctrine. Our unity is not something we manufacture or force, but is a pure gift given to us by God. Our unity comes from the recognition that the most important thing about any of us, regardless of who we are, or what we think, or where we come from, is that we are a beloved child of God, and that through the power of the Spirit, we are made members of Jesus' actual body, knit together across every form of difference. Our unity does not erase our differences, it lies underneath them and binds us together across them.
To confess God is Trinity is to affirm that the very soul of the universe is unity without uniformity and difference without division. If that is true, then difference is never a threat to be opposed or a problem to be overcome. It is a gift to be celebrated and embraced.
As you pray with the gospel this week, as you sit with your local community in your own stunningly beautiful context, I hope you will feel your connection to the vast family you are part of in this diocese, to the vast community that spans time and space to draw us all more and more fully into the eternal embrace of God our Creator, through Jesus God's son, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Grace and Peace,
The Right Revered Craig Loya