“That they may all be one” – The Motto of the United Church of Christ

Excerpt from John 10:11-21

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,  just as [God] knows me and I know[God]. And I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.  For this reason [God] loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again…”  Many [said]…”He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?”  Others were saying, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Reflection by Ron Buford

A rabbi told me that a town with two Jews would need three synagogues: The one I go to; The one you go to; and one neither one of us would be caught dead in. Christians are much the same. But Jesus’ prophetic words assure us that someday, God’s people will ALL be one – within and across faith groups.

Jesus clearly does not have uniformity or immediacy in mind as he prophetically and with certainty says he WILL gather “other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I MUST bring them also. . . There WILL be one flock one shepherd.” We don’t know how this will happen any more than we know how cancer, AIDS, or other scientific mysteries will be solved, but like each of these, God will use people like you and me in the process.

People in Jesus’ day were as divided about Jesus’ prophecy as we are today…mosques or no mosques; synagogues or no synagogues; churches or no churches; gay marriage or no gay marriage; ways to worship, receive communion, or baptize. And yet, we act as if God, knowledge, or love itself is something we can own, limit, control or divide. But the day will come when our blindness will be healed and all who seek to love God with all their heart soul and mind and their neighbors as themselves will be one, even in the midst of difference.

Imagine the excitement of those whose eyes Jesus opened who began their day having never seen or expected to see a sunset, the twinkle in a child’s eye, or a shooting star, but went to bed having seen them all. Now imagine embracing Jesus’ promise as we celebrate who we are and what we believe today. Imagine expecting God to open our eyes to see beyond current limits of our languages, metaphors, and borders. Imagine the pure joy of having seen and revealed a new path to peace…and then closing our eyes at the last, having seen God’s creation power at work–making all things and people brand new, at any age. Imagine!


Gracious, Stillspeaking, Still Creating God: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, I want to see You, I want to love You and love all my neighbors as myself.  We love You. Help us love You more. Amen.

About the Author
Ron Buford is Director of Development for the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ.