Finding Unity in the Midst of Division

two broken cups

In mid-October I traveled back to Valparaiso, Indiana for my small in-person Consecration and while I was there I had the opportunity to worship at the Chapel on Valpo’s campus for Sunday morning worship. It was so nice to hear the beautiful pipe organ and though there was no congregational singing they had cantors in the balcony that led the music. There is one piece of music from that worship that has stuck with me since then, I find myself singing it to myself often. It is a Marty Haugen piece called “We are many parts.” I found the words both powerful and moving. Here are the lyrics: (Or you can listen here.)

We are many parts; we are all one body. And the gifts we have, we were given to share. May the spirit of love, make us one indeed; One, the Love that we share; One, our hope and despair; One, the cross that we bear.

God of all, we look to you, we would be your servants true, let us be your love for all the world.

We are many parts; we are all one body. And the gifts we have, we were given to share. May the spirit of love, make us one indeed; One, the Love that we share; One, our hope and despair; One, the cross that we bear.

So my pain is pain for you. In your joy, is my joy too, all is brought together in the Lord.

We are many parts; we are all one body. And the gifts we have, we were given to share. May the spirit of love, make us one indeed; One, the Love that we share; One, our hope and despair; One, the cross that we bear.

All you seekers great and small, Seek the greatest gift of all, If you love, then you will know the Lord.

We are many parts; we are all one body. And the gifts we have, we were given to share. May the spirit of love, make us one indeed; One, the Love that we share; One, our hope and despair; One, the cross that we bear.

Marty Haugan

I love most things by Haugen, but I think the words in particular are what spoke so strongly to me with this piece. Throughout the pandemic I have felt the weight of division around how to go about life while also protecting each other. Seeing protests about wearing masks, something that seems so simple as a way to protect each other, yet is so divisive. Through the way our country feels like a divided front in how we should combat the virus, with each state, and each county even, having its own plan of attack, rather than one united plan as to how to help us all get through this together. And need I even mention our division as a country and as people when it comes to politics. Whether it be the advertisements that degrade opponents, or how entrenched we are in a two party system, it shows how deep we have let division seep into our midst.

This song spoke to my feelings of wishing we could learn to love each other, and realize that we are all in this together whether we like it or not. Speaking to what I have felt a lot lately about the need to love our neighbor, to love each other, even when we disagree. I think in part it spoke so strongly to me because it is so poignant to where we are at and what we are experiencing in our daily lives. Whether it be disagreements about how to cope and live through a global pandemic, or disagreements about who to vote for and why, it feels like there is so much division and anger everywhere. My heart longs more and more for us to find ways to have space for conversations and dialogue where we can see how much we really do have in common as people and not just focus on the reasons we disagree.

This is where I come back to the song, and the second verse in particular: So my pain is pain for you. In your joy, is my joy too, all is brought together in the Lord. It talks about feeling each other’s pain and joy, feeling empathy for what others are experiencing, which reminds me of a verse from one of my favorite hymns: I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh I’ll laugh with you. I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through (from “Will You Let Me be Your Servant”). This, I think, is the important task, to create space to see and listen to each other’s pain and joy. To see what brings joy and pain to each other. To see that each number in the Covid death toll is a person with a family that is grieving their loss. To fully see each other and all that comes with that. To see that we are many parts but we are all one body.

I pray this day that the spirit of love continues to work in and through us all, to help us see how connected we are to each other. To help us do every day the work that needs to be done to make us one indeed.

Sara Manning

Sara Manning

Director of Youth, Family, and Education Ministries
Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Boise

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