The hymn “Many Gifts, One Spirit” has been occupying my attention these past few weeks and days. Written by Al Carmines on a commission from the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, this song was first sung in October of 1973 at the Assembly of United Methodist Women in Cincinnati, Ohio. This Assembly was the first following the merger of the Methodist and the Evangelical United Brethren churches.
Thus the song highlights our many gifts as United Methodist Christians but also the one Spirit who draws all those gifts together and makes them usable to God for the purpose of fulfilling God’s vision, God’s desire and dream for the people called United Methodist. A God of “many colors … many signs,” to use the words of the hymn, chooses to make human beings different and unique. Each one of us, therefore, is a special child of God, formed and fashioned by One who loves us just as we are and who calls us to reveal the Divine Image implanted within us to those others, neighbors and strangers, all of whom we are called to love.
Many gifts, one Spirit, one love known in many ways.
In our difference is blessing, from diversity we praise
one Giver, one Lord, one Spirit, one Word
known in many ways,
hallowing our days.
For the Giver, for the gifts, praise, praise, praise!
Here at Wooster United Methodist Church we are a large and diverse congregation composed of persons of diverse backgrounds and disparate opinions. We are male and female, we are young and old, we are Republican and Democrat, we are liberal and conservative, we are long-time church members and brand new Christians. Some of us are wealthy, others of us are just starting out, some are college educated, others are still in school, some are from this country, others have immigrated from elsewhere, some are well-known in the community, others not so much.
We have many gifts, but one Spirit unites us, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus has given to the Church to unify us, to unite us, to call us to serve a single purpose, a common mission, which is “to make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
And the only way for us to carry out this high and holy task, I am convinced, is to use the diversity which God has given us – different skills, different talents, different insights and outlooks – to touch as many lives as possible with the loving light of Jesus Christ, that which was first shown when God called all things into existence, that light which enlightens our darkness and bridges our divisions and drives away our doubt!