I've been wondering about the prayer at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, which says Does this prayer refer exclusively to unity in the church, i.e. among believers, or can its meaning be extended to include unity in the entire cosmos? If this latter meaning can be sustained, how would this notion of unity differ from the unity found in say, Hinduism or hermetic philosophy?
I believe that all of the comments on this thread are on track. The peace and unity referred to are for all things in Christ in the image of the peace & unity of the Holy Trinity. But as a liturgical work this peace & unity are to be (and can only really be) accomplished through the Church.
A personal comment here- over the years the Liturgy strikes me as being an ascetic work & journey in which the Kingdom is foreshadowed. Unity is implicit in this work. For we begin with the people of God assembled in the church and we pray so that this assembly becomes a true unity in Christ.
However this liturgy is still only a foreshadowing since we still live amidst human weakness. Which is why the liturgy ends on an earthly level. Thus we disburse to our own homes afterward. However we once again return to the church to resume this work again. For in Christ the work of peace & unity must be a continuous one: "again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord"- which is why it is inherently ascetic.
In truth then none of these elements can be separated from each other- common effort, common prayer, unity & peace. This puts us on track to attain to or at least touch the Kingdom.
In Christ- Fr Raphael