As we begin the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity today, it was perhaps fortuitous that I came across this article on-line. It is an account of a truly radical (that is, something that goes to the root) act of Christian reconciliation and fellowship that renewed my hope in God's church and the unity for which Jesus prayed on the night before he died.
In itself the action that the report tells of is unremarkable: many Christian people will have shared such a moment many times. Indeed for the Roman Catholic church (and others in the catholic tradition) this is an action that most participate in every time they enter a church building - as the article states. What has caught the imagination is that this was something that took place between a Roman Catholic cardinal and a female United Methodist minister.
With all the controversy that exists within the Christian communion over the ministry of women, this is a wonderful, prophetic action which declares that, whatever our theology, the bottom line is that by virtue of our allegiance to Christ, signified by the sacrament of baptism, we are part of the one Body of Christ. Irrespective of how we worship, where we gather, how we order our particular expression of Jesus's disciples, there is a unity that goes beyond our humanly-constructed (perhaps I can rightly say 'man-made') delineations. This is where our focus should be: not only in these next eight days, but every day.
May they be one... so that the world may believe!