Ecumenism

From the Celebrating Mystery collection

THEME            The Shattered Face of Oneness

THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION

  1. Until we discern the riches of the other tradition, any union will simply be a matter of absorption.
  2. Uniting two traditions can create a space where a third and more life- giving form of spirituality can emerge.
  3. The true ecumenical spirit will seek for union regardless of the numbers or the economic base of the partner with whom one is in dialogue.
  4. When ecumenism is simply seen as a way to unite against a hostile and ‘ungodly’ world, it betrays a failure to understand what the concept of ‘one household’ really means.
  5. If we pray for unity but expect the other partner to make all the concessions then we are in a takeover mode not the mode of loving inclusiveness.
  6. True ecumenism is not a question of compromise but of discovering a totally different attitude to worship, truth, authority and church organization.
  7. Sometimes churches have united merely out of desperation in the face of falling finances and decreasing numbers. All this does is to put off the day of reckoning.
  8. Christian Ecumenism should only be the beginning of a journey into adopting a more inclusive ‘one household’ attitude to issues of gender equality, to people of other sexual orientations, to other world faiths, to secular spiritualities, to the poor of the earth and to the Earth itself.
  9. A group’s size has never been a guarantee of wisdom. Think of Christ’s small group of followers and the size of fascist movements at their height. In union negotiations it may well be that the larger group needs the wisdom of the smaller group more than the reverse.
  10. Ecumenism – the pattern of Godhead, unity in diversity, the many and the one, the uniting pluralism.
  11. Ecumenism is not an optional extra in church life, one amongst many activities but a central expression of the nature of the gospel.
  12. In the world of nature the best way to ensure extinction is to fail to adapt to changing conditions and so it is with the church.
    A defensive mode in the face of the changing world of thought will be the best way to accelerate the church’s decline in the more affluent countries of the West. Withdrawing to one’s own small corner does not give much space for the spirit to move!
  13. Behind the fractured vision lies a wholeness we can only glimpse from time to time. This awareness is insight, wisdom, a moment of enlightenment – not darkness denying ‘enlightenment’ but vision that holds light and darkness together as one.
  14. Institutional solutions to non-institutional problems are no solution at all
  15. Our spirit is the vehicle of inter-connectedness with the universe. So all division is in some sense a denial of the spirit.
  16. When the whole world is perceived as the body and blood of Christ,
    denominational rivalries fade into insignificance.
  17. In order to re-establish oneness we need a new model of catholicity
    which is much more complex, much more inclusive and which is compatible with other forms of spirituality.

 

PRAYERS

  1. God, the inspiration and process of all true unity, help us to work with you for the breaking down of all barriers within the church and throughout society.
  2. God who creates the vast variety of human beings, save us from confusing uniformity with unity and inspire us to work for a church
    which embraces diverse understandings of that divine mystery
    which lies at the heart of your being.
  3. Spirit of unity, help us discern your presence
    whenever we are one with the earth,
    one with other people
    and one with our inner being.
    May this experience transform our understanding of what it means to be church.

 

HYMNS

Holy Spirit as you speak. (BL)

As rivers with many strands.

www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/boundlesslife

In the space between traditions.

http://www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/the_mystery_telling

Deep within our minds.

http://www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/the_mystery_telling

Buried in my being.
http://www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/the_mystery_telling

For all Christ’s friends. (STS1)

Which place can we call home? (STS2)

Singing the Sacred Vol 1 2011, Vol 2 2014 World Library Publications

 

SONG FOR TEENS

King David was a man of fire. (Bible Pluralism) (SYSJ)

 

POEMS

MORE THAN A PAINTING?

My late aunt painted a picture

which epitomizes

her spirit and ministers to mine.

In it a river divides around an island

and then unites once again

within misty otherness of bush-clad hills.

 

The image’s origin ‑

picture card, real life, imagination,

is inconsequential.

What matters is its inner message,

its life-like mysticism,

its seeing beyond division and fragmentation

to oneness

perceiving the divided stream

as the same

as the united river.

So, O God, help me to vision

beyond life’s divisive antagonisms

and separations

to the oneness of your loving purposes

and rest in that river

of trusting quietude.

 

IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF IT

“In the world

but not of it”

ring the words

of the yearning Christ

as he prayed for his followers: (i)

“In the world

but not of it”

not pretending to be in the world,

not making casual contact,

not living in some dream-like other worldliness

but immersed in this world.

Immersed in it,

Baptized into it,

taking our place

in its vast inter-connectedness,

its song of tears and delight,

its molecular and planetary dance:

our place as reverencing members of groups and tribes,

organizations and movements,

biological, ethnic, political and religious families.

“In the world but not of it”

not confined to the

excluding parameters

of thought systems

behavioral delineations

or designated normalities.

And all this “that they all might be One”. (ii)

 

(i)     John 17:11, 15, 16

(ii)  John 17:21

 

FOCUS FOR ACTION

  1. The building of ‘walls’ to keep others out springs from a malnourished psyche. The very ‘wall’ we build to ‘protect’ ourselves soon becomes a ‘wall’ that cuts us off from the nourishment we so vitally need to receive from others. If there is a ‘wall’ around a group it leads to an exclusiveness that tends to breed arrogance, intolerance and an obsession with judgmental morality. What walls exist, in whole or in part, around my denomination, local church and my own life?  Would it not be better to strengthen our inner life, forgiving and accepting ourselves? How could I contribute to an increasing openness within my church?
  1. In order to move on into a new future, we often have either to leave things behind, or transform them into something new. When fear of losing members from a group or congregation leads us into a dishonest politeness, then the growth of all the members is undermined. We are called to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15)
    How could I apply this to my church and my personal life, remembering that it is often better to lose a friendship than to maintain a dishonest one?

Celebrating Mystery Logo

LOGO NOTE: At the heart of the mystery all the separate boxes disappear and all is one, all is love.

Text and graphic © William Livingstone Wallace but available for free use.

 

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