Friday, May 8, 2015

Lord's Day Alliance: Sunday as a Mark of Christian Unity

Sunday as a Mark of Christian Unity  
Lord's Day Alliance

Put simply, nothing in the calendar unites us like Sunday. It is a day that changed the world on the very first Sunday and, I would argue, every Sunday after the first. The world was transfigured through a myriad of Sunday’s when Christians gathered in communion and heard the Gospel message. It was on Sunday when Christians learned to love their enemies and care for those in need. It was on Sunday when Christians first met to share a meal of love they called by the Greek word agape (ἀγάπη). It was, is, and shall always be on Sunday when the best hope for humanity shines forth from churches large and small and the “Eucharist after the Eucharist” travels forth from the four walls of the church and into the home and homeless shelter, the playground and the hospital, the wedding feast and the wake.

It is human nature to think parochially—in terms of our own family, our own exclusive church, our own unique religious entity. In this historical light, however, Sunday takes on a new meaning. Sunday worship is something more than simply what our parents and grandparents did. Sunday worship is even more than what our local faith community has done. Sunday worship is something that all Christians, at all times have celebrated. When we gather on Sunday the unity we achieve takes us back in time, across the ages to the earliest believer; it also moves us forward in time to embrace generations not yet born. In this way, the spiritual unity we have thus achieved possesses an eschatological character. The unity to which we bear witness and which we embody is a manifestation of the kingdom to which we all aspire.

In order to fully appreciate Sunday as a mark of Christian unity we must expand our definition of unity. We must all strive for a Christian community—one throughout the ages—for such a transcendent unity yields many fruits. If we are in union with the earliest Christians then we will share in their zeal. If we are in unity with the martyrs then we partake of their devotion. If we are in unity with those compassionate Christians then we feel and can bestow their healing touch. When we assemble in faith on Sundays, we gather not simply with other parishioners in a local place of worship, but with Christians throughout every land and all the ages—and there is no greater evidence of unity than this. In our century, as with its predecessors, challenges large and small threaten Sunday. However, when we stand in faith, as members of a Church beyond all churches, we reclaim Sunday for the God who gave it to us.