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This is part of a series of posts based on the Churches Together in England publication one light: one world. If you click on the link you will find the biblical texts. This post of the same name covers the purpose of this series.
Romans 15: 10 - 11
This final passage, from the section of 'one light: one world' headed 'Christ's work in bringing us into unity', is something of mystery.
The burden of the message seems to be now gentiles are admitted into the faith, they can join all peoples in praising God.
Churches Together in England has selected these passages to encourage us to reflect upon how we may all be one. Some of them don't make any especial connection to ecumenism for me and this one in particular seems to be something of a space filler.
One thing I can do is use the opportunity afforded by the last line 'let all the peoples praise him' to reflect upon one theme that has emerged from this section of passages.
That is the theme of 'glory'. As I understand it, the glory of God is the means by which we are made aware of the presence of God. God is not accessible to our senses and so we need signs of God. These signs represent the real presence of God.
In a way the halo is one way artists have tried to depict God's glory. It is a metaphor for something more difficult to define.
What John 17 seems to be saying is unity is the glory of God. It is the ultimate reconciliation of all things. It can be prefigured in the church and the divided church is our opportunity to demonstrate the glory of God, being united despite our differences. Ecumenism is the laboratory in which the churches experiment with unity.
When we are prepared to take responsibility for unity, by being prepared to risk our own integrity in order to embrace the other, then we see God's glory. This is what the early gentile Christians experienced and what gave them cause to praise God.