“There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.”
– Ephesians 4:5-6
Recently we had the opportunity to be part of a unity event in Manchester called ‘One Name on Campus‘. Over a hundred students from all over the city, and across the breadth of the body of Christ, worshipped together right in the heart of the university and then set up two prayer rooms over the following 24 hours. We gathered under the name of Jesus – declaring that He is Lord and saviour, worthy of all of our worship and adoration, and the centre point around which we all orbit and through whom we all relate.
And if I had one word to describe it, that would be…. ‘beautiful’.
From the sheer variety of people involved and how they all pulled together, to the awe and reverence of the worship service, to midnight prayer parties and early morning devotions with new brothers and sisters, it just felt like a truly special couple of days and a significant chapter in the student work of a significant city.
One church leader remarked to me afterwards how impactful it was to be at a unity event that was so simple and so focused on Jesus, and that it felt like a part of a realisation of that old Delirious line, “where all the streams flow as one river“. And amongst the students there was ignited a new hunger to pray and a realisation that God is up to far more than we realise, in places we might never have expected. From a personal point of view, seeing students coming away knowing that what unites is so much stronger than what divides is something that I would happily give my life to keep on experiencing!
Unity and collaboration has been at the heart of who we are since Campus Awakening began, but generally speaking that has been with people who look and sound very similar us and who are going after mission in very similar ways. So the connection in particular with the students and leaders at the Catholic chaplaincy has been a real treasure and one I’m excited to see develop. It feels like God is doing something new – as he always is! – and he’s just asking us to follow him as it unfolds before us.
I’m so conscious also that we are not tempted to reduce the idea of unity to mere activity. It is so much more than any event, or project, or anything you can structure or manufacture. It is so much more even than arriving on a uniform theological or ecclesiological position – there was no attempt at or desire for this at any point. Rather, we’re reminded that unity is relationship, it’s about people. And so my prayer moving forward is that this time will not be something we look back on and say, ‘hey, wasn’t it fun to do unity for a couple of days‘, but rather we see it for what it was: a really fun opportunity for us to enjoy the connection that we already have in Jesus and to hopefully knit our hearts together in a deeper way, all for God’s glory.