Firstly and before I go on to write about what I want to write about today I want to apologise for being so tardy in publicising the comments everyone made on Foo Fighters and the comment from LettyandDollyin our continued argument about what it means to be Christian (check it out as there are some really good points coming up and we all need to be clear where we stand). I have no good excuses I have just been rather busy!
And now to my main thoughts today. Today I have mostly been thinking about….
Ecumenism – Or why what the Pope said matters
I have lived a slightly unorthodox religious life. I am aware of that. I have worshipped in more churches in my short life than most people even visit. Because my father was in the forces we moved on average every 3 years. Some churches we went to were lively with large congregations, some churches were tiny, my family was the congregation. Some churches used guitars, some had statues of the Virgin and some even used incense. I have been confirmed as a Methodist and an Anglican ( in the same ceremony) I have married a Catholic and I visit a Catholic nun for spiritual direction and take retreats at a Catholic monastery.
With a background like this it is easy for me to see the common ground that we all have as Christians. Everywhere I have been accepted and loved by the Christians I have met – whether we hold the same beliefs about prayer, intercession and communion or not. Almost all liturgies are the same, down to the very words. (In fact our words and structure of worship as Christians are even incredibly close to the structure of a Jewish service I have been too – which shouldn’t surprise any of us.)
The point I am making is that our differences – our liturgies, our approaches, the physical things we hold so closely to that we think make us different from other denominations are really not that different. This is why what the Pope has done recently – allowing a kind of Anglican enclave to be grafted onto the Catholic Church while retaining many of the more distinctive Anglican prayers, liturgy etc to remain – is of great interest to me. It opens the doors to more Anglicans joining the Catholic Church in a kind of half way house move that means they can retain their Anglicanism but take communion with Catholics. And this issue of communion has always been the cause of most emotional worry and concern to me – specifically the refusal of the Catholic Church to allow Anglicans to take communion. The very point where we as Christians are supposed to be united, the unifying meal that springs out of the Jewish statement of identity in the Passover feast, the common action that distinguishes Christians from any other faith group- is restricted We can worship together, we can’t eat together. I feel a bit like the Samaritan woman whenever I go to a Catholic service (which I do quite a bit with my husband).
Why is this important? Well, maybe it will help to start to break down barriers between us. Maybe the stuck in the mud attitude of Forward in Faith to women priests and homosexuals will become the Trojan Horse by which we as Catholics and Protestants begin to discover our common language, instead of focusing on what divides us.
God does what he wants despite us, that is one thing I do know and anything that can draw us closer together should be celebrated. I watch with interest and with hope because when we finally leave this earth I can’t believe the first thing God is going to ask any of us is
“And what denomination are you?”