Living the unity that is already ours in Christ

Over the last several decades, church leaders have entered into many extremely promising dialogues focused on exploring ways to understand and reconcile the differences that are seen as dividing Christian faith families. While such efforts have borne much fruit, there has been relatively little change in the way Christian communities live out the unity for which Jesus prayed (John 17:21-23). Yet there already exists a substantial foundation upon which to build a lived, visible communion.

Paul's vision of unity

For Paul, Christian unity is sevenfold: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:4-6). Right now, without waiting for additional joint declarations or full communion accords, we have six "unities," six "supporting ligaments" that already hold the body together. Let us begin - now - at the grassroots, local church level to build up this body in love(cf. Ephesians 4:16). (Oh yeah - and those signs over there --> will take you to a whole series of reflections on the vision of Christian unity in the Letter to the Ephesians.)

A bit about The Church Commons...

The Commons was an image that grew from reflecting on the exciting realization that there are many ways in which we who live in Christ are one - right now, even as we pray and wait for God's power to heal our brokenness, even as our leaders continue to bring the structures of our churches closer together. And there is so much more we can do together, so many ways to be gift to each other and witness to the world. It entails not leaving our faith homes but planting ourselves deeply in the life, tradition and community where we encounter God, and then placing that life in dialogue with, and service to, each other.

It's time to get our act together

The Commons image is very much a community-based approach to Christian communion. How is the Church in your community meeting each other, showing itself to the world as one? Now about gathering your own group of congregational prayer partners next Pentecost? We'd be glad to help. And we would love to know what your experiences have been in common work, spiritual life and witness.

Not a place, not a bridge; it's a space

The Church Commons is an idea, born of a desire to offer a way to begin living the unity that is ours right now. It is envisioned as a space - like a village square or commons - bordered, protected and defined all the churches that together form the one Church. This space belongs to all, is controlled by none. Remaining true to our individual faith traditions, we are free to wander into the commons and encounter our brothers and sisters from other houses, other families. Here we can come to know each other in faith; to experience the unity that is already ours, and to witness more compellingly to that unity in the midst of the world.

The Commons Foundation

Because it is the prayer of Jesus, and the will of the Father, that the world come to believe; and because it is the unity of all who believe the word that will bring the world to belief; it is therefore the sacred obligation of all of us who are called Christians to cooperate with God's unfolding plan for the unity of God's people, the Church.

The sad truth is that the state of the Church's unity is not compelling. The world is moving farther from God, not closer.

But the good news is that beneath the fissures of our division is a vast bedrock of unity, of communion, that is ours - now. Right now. What is lacking is the visible expression of that communion.

The Church Commons is envisioned as a space, bounded by, and open to, all Christians of all Christian faith families. Like a town or village square it belongs to all - to all the citizens of the Kingdom of God. Here we can meet, whether in spirit only or in body as well. Here we can pray, work, celebrate and proclaim our common faith together. Here we experience ourselves in communion, and reveal that One Body to the world - right now, even as we continue to seek understanding or resolution of those things that we see as dividing us.

There are no membership requirements other than the common faith we share. No dues. All who confess Jesus as Lord are welcome here, are one here. It is Christianity at its most grass roots level. Flowing from and returning to our own expressions of church, we can here live as one.

Vision

Even as we strive to be more in God's will concerning those things we find to be differences dividing the body, we who are the Church hold that we do already share, as St. Paul proclaimed, in the one Spirit and the one hope; in the one Lord, one faith, and the one baptism; and in the one God and Father of all (Eph 4:4-6).

We will will experience more fully this common life we have in Christ. We will bear more compelling witness to our common faith in our Lord and Savior.

And so we undertake to create more opportunities to gather, whether in Spirit or in time and place, in order to pray, serve, celebrate and stand as the one body in Christ. This 'place' of gathering we call the Church Commons. Bounded by all the meeting houses of the People of God, it is a space open to all. Here we seek to know ourselves, and to be seen by the world, as the One Church of Jesus Christ.

Commons Faith

What We Believe

We believe in one God: the Father Almighty; the Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior; and the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the midst of the People of God, the Church on earth.

Our Common Mission

We believe that the Church is called to proclaim the good news to the ends of the earth, in word and witness.

Our Common Scripture

We hold the Bible to be the true, inspired Word of God, revealed to humanity. It is the final authority on all matters of faith and the living of a Christian life.