We have been exploring the arena of divisive issues within the Church. Here is what we've looked at so far:
- Alan began the chain, setting the stage and posed several questions for our pondering in “Chain Blog: Dealing with Divisive Issues Introduction”.
- Arthur laid a foundation of love for our conversation to be built upon in “Chain Blog: Dealing with divisive issues starts with love”.
- Jeremy showed us the power of asking for forgiveness for our own contributions to the dividedness of our Church in “I am divisive”.
- Jon posed several excellent questions for our pondering and invited us to explore the unifying aspects of our faith traditions in “Chain Blog: Please agree with me”.
- In “Division and our shared humanity”Andy took us back to the beginning, to the garden of Eden where our forgetfulness began.
- Bobby explored our dividing issue through a mathematical lens in “Chain Blog: solving the problem”.
- In“Divisiveness: Acts 2 &amp;amp; Ugly Carpet” FallenPastor made us all shake our heads at the silly things that we divide over, like the color of the carpet in the sanctuary, while also addressing some more serious issues.
Born into a Lutheran-Catholic blended congregation, raised in the ELCA and called as the children's and youth director in a Methodist congregation several years ago, I now worship with a non-denominational congregation on Sunday mornings, experience the creative energies of an Episcopal-Lutheran church on Sunday evenings and delightfully participate in a liturgical Episcopalian Eucharist on Wednesday mornings. For the last two and a half years, I have served with an inter-denominational leadership team for a worship community called Frankincense. I am well-versed in inter-denominational ministry and interaction, but it means that when I speak to the ordination boards, I cannot point to any particular denomination or church family as my "home".
To be ordained, I must choose, but I cannot deny that various parts of my body, mind or spirit are fed by the many different branches of the family of Christ. I find it encouraging that I can find the Lord's presence moving as actively in a tiny gathering of homeless women as in a high-church Catholic mass. The bells, organ and thousand-member choir of a large church can bring me to my knees in awe, and the intimate connections, the holding of hands and the greeting by name in a small community can bring tears of joy to my eyes as the Spirit of Life breathes afresh into me. I have never been in a church building or community where God is completely absent.
On account of this, I have great hope that, despite our divided appearance, we really are united in Christ. Because we gather for the purpose of serving, worshipping and reflecting the Triune God, in our own unique ways we are in fact bringing God glory by our very existence. Everything is in the process of being made new. We are, slowly, remembering who we are.
In a previous blog post, I referenced a zombie film called Fido, which is by far, my favorite recently produced zombie movie. Over time, a flesh-eating zombie remembers, through the compassion of a trinity of sorts, that he once knew how to love. In the end, a new family is formed, and a life that could have never before been imagined, begins. The domination and devouring that formerly defined zombie existence no longer exists. There is new life.
Dear ones, although we find ourselves in the in-between time, where divisions, fractions, dominations and devouring of one another exists, I encourage us to remember who, and whose, we are. Things will not always be this way. We will all be united in the time that is to come.
For now, let us use every gift that we have each been given for the healing of the world. It may look very different for each one of us in each of our particular communities and contexts, but as long as we are working towards the goal of all people coming to know Christ, we will not be completely divided.
[Let us] pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. [May we] keep alert and alway persevere in supplication for all the saints. [Please] pray also for me, so that when I speak, [or paint, or sing or write] a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. (Eph. 6:18-19)I look forward to the day when I, like Paul, can address the church and say,
I thank my God upon my every remembrance of you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for [the whole Church] because of the sharing in the gospel from the first day until [eternity]. (Phil. 1:3-5)
May that day come soon!
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
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Links Added to the Chain since my post:
9. “No, we can’t just get along” by Alan
10. “Who says we are divided?” by Jon
11. “Disunity and the mind of Christ” by Fred