This Sunday is traditionally the day when we mark the foundation of our Church, and remember the vision and hope of those who worked so hard and believed so deeply in Christian Unity. Inspired by the prayer of Jesus in John’s Gospel, ‘Father, may they be one and you and I are one’, leaders like Rev Dr Davis McCaughey, Rev George Yule, Rev Winston O’Reilly and many others, were motivated primarily by the call to mission. Their strong belief was that where the Christian community is fragmented into many different denominations, it reflects disunity and division in the body of Christ, rather than the wholeness and holiness of God. There was a great deal of optimism in those early days that other denominations would join this movement which is why the name Uniting was chosen, rather than United! At one stage there was a proposal that the three denominations of Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist, also join with the Church of South India, making it a church across south east Asia and not just Australia. If this had taken
place it would have constantly reminded us that we are part of a world-wide community joined to people of every race and nation.
Remembering this vision and the deep commitment both to social justice and to mission which led to the formation of the Uniting Church, invites us to reflect on how we embody and give expression to these
things. I have always liked the image of the church used by the World Council of Churches and our National Council of Churches as their logo.
The idea of the church as a boat reminds us of the story of Noah, or of Jesus’ first encounter with the fishermen on Galilee. A boat is on one level a refuge of safety on the seas, but also something that enables us to travel and move – rather than keep us in one place.
It leads us on a journey – as Paul did to places where he grew the church.
It reminds us that the Church is both a place (a community) in which we can feel safe, relax, and grow in faith and hope among friends, but also a community engaged in the life around them, beyond the safe confines of a building, always aware that the God who calls us never forsakes us but actually goes before us inviting us into a big vision and an inspiring future.