The story is told of a man who was walking across a bridge and came upon another man standing right on the edge, about to plunge to his death. The first man shouted “Stop! Are you a Christian?” “Yes, as a matter of fact I am.” “Well so am I. Are you Catholic or Orthodox or Protestant?” “I’m Protestant,” “Well so am I. Are you Episcopal or Lutheran or Baptist?” “I’m Baptist.” “Wow… I am too. Are you Southern Baptist or American Baptist? “I’m Southern Baptist,” “Me too, that’s amazing! Are you original Southern Baptist or Southern Baptist reformed?” “I’m Southern Baptist reformed.” “I can’t believe it, so am I.” But tell me are you Reformed Southern Baptist of the reformation of 1879, or reformed Southern Baptist of the Reformation of 1915?” He answered, “Reformed Baptist, reformation of 1915.” To which the first man said, “Die you heretic,” and he pushed him off the bridge.
We are a society that is marked with schisms and divisions aren’t we? Liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, Whites, Blacks, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, different nationalities, political views, and different religious affiliations are differences that can keep people apart. And not just apart but can keep us angry at each other. The attitude that people have today towards those holding different viewpoints is not tolerance but anger and impatience. Our news commentators and commentaries are filled with anger and vitriol. Our politicians pour scorn upon each other and call each other names and point fingers. And yet here we are. Different denominations, different religious traditions and how can we imagine that we can get along?
Certainly if we attempt to unify ourselves with politics we know that will fail. If we try to unify ourselves with our traditional religious backgrounds, that too will fail. Each of us has different traditions and each of us know that our particular tradition is the correct one! Therefore in order to have unity we must have something around which we feel the same about. In order to have unity there must be something about which we all agree. And there is only one thing. There is only one person about whom we, all of us here today can be unified about and that one person is Jesus Christ. Jesus said to his disciples on the night he was betrayed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by me.” All of us here agree that Jesus is the way the truth and life and that He is the only way to God. As believers, even though we belong to different denominations which may be separated by slightly different doctrines and ways of thinking about how we do church and how we are to serve God and what is the most important thing in God’s eyes, we all agree that Jesus is the Way. We all agree that Jesus is Truth. We all believe that Life is found only through Him. Each of us is dedicated to following Jesus with all our hearts. He is the One through whom we have unity. He is the One about whom we agree. So even though the Orthodox among us may disagree with the Episcopalians and the Lutherans about whether the Filioque clause in the Nicene Creed should be included; and even though the Episcopalians and Orthodox disagree with the Lutherans about Consubstantiation; and even though the Orthodox and the Lutherans disagree with the Episcopalians about Real Presence; it is OK. These matters, as important as they may be, are negligible in comparison with the issue of who is the Lord. The Lord Jesus is the Lord and we all agree on that. And the Lord Jesus is the One we all worship, follow and love. He is the one who is our unity. He is why we can sit here together and have a common time of fellowship and worship. Amen