Saturday, January 19, 2013

Reflections for Day 1 of the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity

Yesterday's readings for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity were followed by a series of questions. I would like to reflect on these questions here. The questions were:

  1. Where do we practice true conversation, across the various differences that separate us?
  2. Is our conversation orientated towards some grand project of our own, or towards new life which brings hope of resurrection?
  3. What people do we converse with, and who is not included in our conversations? Why?

My response:

1. Although Christian traditions can be very different from each other in matters of doctrine and liturgy, they still share basic Christian teachings. These teachings are nicely summed up in the Nicene Creed. Although the differences are not negligible, ecumenical conversations are important to collectively bear witness to Jesus Christ in the world. There are many social issues that Christians agree on and different groups can work together in hunger centers and the like. We should reexamine denominational stereotypes. Do Catholics really worship Mary and re-crucify Jesus at each Mass? Do Protestants really lack a sense of tradition or community? 

2. In the Genesis reading, the people tried to create unity through their own means. Although Christians pray for unity, ecumenical efforts that water down Christianity to avoid controversy, lack integrity. Jesus calls Christians to live radical lives, so disagreements are unavoidable. What is the point of Christian unity if it asks Christians to compromise their faith in Jesus Christ? "Seek first the Kingdom of God" is a good rule of thumb.

3. There tends to be a chasm, at least in the United States, between "conservative/traditional" Christians and "liberal/progressive" Christians. Respectful conversations between the two groups are almost non-existent. How can Christians bridge the gap? This is a question that I struggle with each and everyday.

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