Monday, 25 January 2016

Wrestling with Christian Unity

The Church celebrates International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this week. We had a pastor from the Church of North India give the homily, or rather 'break open the word' (which by the way isn't  supposed to happen- only the priest or deacon are allowed to give homilies during the Mass, according to Redemptionis Sacramentum- his reflection should have been after the Mass. But anyway.)

We also had a gathering with my prayer community to which we invited people from an Assemblies of God church, the pastor spoke there too, their music ministry played praise and worship music, and a YWAM team lead us in intercession for Christian unity.

So you can probably tell I'm kind of saturated in Christian unity thoughts. I feel like weeks like these raise so many questions in this INTJs mind. (As I'm sure they do in my counterparts in non-Catholic churches.)

Like, yes, unity and everyone getting along is all well and good, but how does it work?

Isn't there a reason our churches aren't one in the first place?

How can we be united without minimizing our differences or acting like they are unimportant? I keep hearing people say things like 'We worship one God so none of the other things really matter'. We believe they matter. These are not just differences in style or tradition or the way we do things. There's more.

Catholics feel like non-Catholic Christians are missing out on or have rejected the substance and truth and graces and unity present in the Catholic Church, especially in the sacraments instituted by Jesus, and in the love and special role of His Mother and the saints. Protestants think Catholics have added on to the doctrine of salvation, over focussing on works, and betraying the true God by praying to human beings. Catholics feel betrayed when their relatives leave the Catholic Church for an evangelical church. Protestants urge people to look for a bible-believing church (as opposed to the Catholic church which many feel is unbiblical).

These don't sound like easy differences to reconcile.

And yet.

We can't just dismiss it as impossible, and focus on something else. Jesus wants it! The disunity of the Church is a scandal! I realize this more fully when I try to explain to a non-Christian who wants to know more about Jesus in India how bad it is. "Why are there so many churches? They teach all different things. Which one should I go to?" I cannot in good conscience say it doesn't matter and they're all the same. But neither should I in charity dismiss or put down members of other churches.

I don't have perfect answers to all my questions. But I just watched a beautiful video that attempts to answer many of them. Audrey Assad and Matt Maher, the biggest Catholic musicians and songwriters attend and speak at OneThing2015, a huge young adult conference organized by IHOP (International House of Prayer) at the first ever Catholic Ecumenical track (which in itself is a huge breakthrough in ecumenical relationships.)

This is a QnA panel addressing some of those questions, as well as questions about the role of praise and worship, very interesting. I especially liked the choice of the Emmaus walk instead of the Prodigal Son as the way we think about ecumenism. And acknowledging the pain of our broken body, not acting like it doesn't exist.

Start at the 09:53 mark if you want to skip introductions, and at the 34:27 mark if you want to go straight to ecumenical questions.

It's actually really beautiful. God wants this!

This one is also interesting- Audrey Assad and Matt Maher sharing about their own stories and talking about growing in worship.

And this is Vatican II's Decree on Ecumenism that Matt and Audrey referred to.

Related:7QT:Catholic-Protestant Interactions and Thoughts  

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