Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
If Paul's letters are regarded as E-mail, then his message is evangelical, ethical, ecclesiastical – and also ecumenical. This is another word that makes some people suspicious. Yet originally it was one of Paul's greatest contributions to see the Church as truly ecumenical, i.e. extending to "the whole inhabited world," and breaking down all barriers of race, social standing and sex. (The Greek scholars will spot that I'm cheating a little bit on this E-word as the Greek is oikumene).
In a day when the resurgence of nationalism is tearing peoples apart around the globe we need to break out of our narrow, local or even national view of Christianity to see it as a truly worldwide movement.
I can recall participating in a most memorable event, the traditional Palm Sunday walk from Bethany, over the Mount of Olives and into Jerusalem. It was a fine day and the route was lined with onlookers, but after a while it dawned on us that the onlookers were all Moslems. The Christians were the ones in the procession. We had no idea where all the Christians came from, and they seemed to speak every conceivable language. But when they sang, there was one word we could recognize: Hosanna! This indeed was the Church, a truly ecumenical gathering – people of many different lands, races and languages, but all one in our common allegiance to Christ.
Prayer: Help us, O God, to break through our narrow, local and limited views of the Church. Remembering that New Testament faith is truly ecumenical may we be enabled to surmount the barriers which divide even Christians and join with all believers in witnessing to our common faith to a distressed and divided world. Amen.