Thursday, September 6, 2007

Something's Gotta Give

This morning I attended the local ministerial group I am part of. This was the first meeting for the new year because we take the summer off. It was a good meeting, but a small one. It's time consuming and isn't exactly my idea of fun, but I think it's crucial if we're ever going to get over denominationalism and understand that we serve the One God the Apostle Paul always pointed us toward. But, we do love our traditions! We were talking about the 150th anniversary of the city and the request for the churches to do something - an ecumenical service, of course. One proposal was to cancel all church services on Sunday morning and have one service out at the high school - enough space for all. Immediately the Catholic church priest said it wasn't possible for him to do that. He's interested in doing the ecumenical service, he just isn't willing to cancel his services - he says he can't. Given the current position of the Vatican, I'm sure he feels that pressure. They are, by recent communication, after all, the only "true church". So - okay, we've dealt with that plenty over the years, doesn't mean the rest of us can't go ahead. I suggested a lunch followed by a worship service on Sunday morning which would allow the Catholic church to do their thing and still be involved. People, after all, come out to eat and a community picnic seems to me to be a way to do food, worship and fellowship! The conversation went on for some time and basically went round in circles. Bottom line is that it's a good idea, but I didn't sense a great deal of flexibility. Are we pastors all like this? Do we stake our ground and refuse to give on issues because our denominational polity or our theology is 'best'? I'd like to think we're not, but am I deluding myself? I am Lutheran because of the theology of grace and I wouldn't have it any other way. I won't allow other theology to be promoted from my pulpit if I have any say over it. So - I'm a bit unwilling to bend myself, aren't I? And yet, it is because of grace that I have a deep, rich, full and fulfilling life. It is because I understand at the core of my being that it is God's action toward me that saves me and not anything I do that makes me Lutheran. I buy the theology. I don't want my salvation to depend on me because I know I'd blow it! But, I also know that everyone needs to work out their own faith and understanding, so I don't want to speak for the masses. So, if we ministers can't come to some kind of common ground how are those who we serve ever going to get there? Seems to me something's gotta give - and I wonder if we'll ever get there.

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