Friday, March 09, 2007

the richness of the catholic faith

We need each other. We are really one. All of us who belong to Jesus Christ. And are of the community of God, through faith in Jesus.

I am from the Protestant Anabaptist evangelical tradition. While I still hold to the reformation in a general way, times have changed. Even back then, God had his people on both sides of the divide. Today it is good to see dialogue. And straw men dismantled. So that we're really listening to each other. And better understanding what we believe and why. And our differing practices and tradition.

We can all learn something from each other. I love the richness of liturgy in the great tradition of the Christian church: in Roman Catholicism, and in Eastern Orthodoxy. I love the rather mediating position of the Anglican church. And I love the simplicity of faith and practice found in Reformation churches. In short here, I'm simply saying there is much to commend in churches we find everywhere.

At the same time we all have weaknesses and blindspots. In some of the great traditions, there tends to be a dearth in members and adherents really enjoying a personal faith in Jesus (a generalization). Though some of the richest Christians I've met are part of those traditions (for me, I've met or have been in contact with those on the Roman side). In our evangelical churches, our faith can sometimes be personalized to a fault, in which it can become all about "me". And on the Protestant side, we've been more open to the corrupting influences of worldly philosophy, such as from the Enlightenment. Not to say that we all don't struggle with worldliness in some forms.

This is not a call for us to simply discard what we believe in faith and practice. And unite as one. But it would be more like a call to remember that at the heart of who we are is Christ. And it is Christ's church first. Then our's as well. And it is, in reality, in spite of all our divisions: one.

Someday all of us in Christ will be united as one. What a great and rich day that will be. Can we just see this happening at the great wedding supper of the Lamb? When Jesus breaks bread and drinks wine with us. And we all celebrate in awe and wonder. The beginning of a never ending life together.

But this should begin now. By at least our acknowledging each other, in love. By our listening to each other. Praying for one another.

This is to be one of our high priorities and marks as followers of Jesus. So that we can be blessed from and be a blessing to each other. As we endeavor to be in mission, in Christ, to the world.

What would you like to add here?


L.L. Barkat said...

Yes, I was thinking on such things on my flight home. I met someone from a different Christian background... liturgical... and it was an enriching time (okay, so I am one of those people who talks to the guy next to me in airplanes!)

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Well, we need more of you. Then it wouldn't seem strange at all when it happened.

Yes. It particularly confirms this when we meet some of those in other Christian traditions. And really get to understand them better.