The Unity We Seek

We Presbyterians are searching frantically to preserve the unity of our denomination, anything to keep the church from splitting. Let's try this way, that way, a third way. There must be some way we can find! But maybe what we need is to give up our ways and concentrate on what God in Christ has done.

We Reformed souls are not very big on liturgy, but that’s where our unity lodges and is celebrated — in our liturgy.

Every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we all are united in Christ. The cup of blessing which we bless; is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16)? And Christ is not divided. He is our one loaf and our one cup, and we are bound one with another in him, whether we like it or not. God in Christ does it. We don’t. And the only way we can refuse that oneness is if we refuse the sacrament.

As for blessings in our church, God pours out his blessing on every single one of us sinners, apart and together, every time the minister raises his or her hands over us and pronounces, “The Lord bless you and keep you . . . .” That’s no pious wish uttered by a mortal human being. That’s the Lord God, through his servant-minister, pouring out his promised life, vitality, strength, peace upon his people (Numbers 6:22-27), again whether we like it our not. Baalam’s statement still applies: “God has blessed, and I cannot revoke it” (Numbers 23:20). And the only way we can refuse that is if we refuse that benediction.

God is the potter; we are the clay. Thank the Lord!


Elizabeth Achtemeier is a retired seminary professor and Presbyterian minister who lives in Richmond, Va.