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Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009
In the early days of the movement toward Christian unity in the 20th century, there was a sense that if we could just get all the churches in the same room to talk about our differences, we'd be able to get past them.
That was sort of true. Over the past 50 or 75 years, we've found by talking to each other that we have a lot in common, and in most parts of the world we've stopped killing each other over things like whether you need a sprinkle or a dousing or a full-blown dunking to join the body of Christ.
In recent decades, though, it's become clear that just getting people in a room together isn't always enough. New questions have emerged, like who gets to be in the room? Where is the room located? What shape is the room? What shape is the table in the room? Who gets to sit at the head of the table? Who calls the meeting? Who leads the meeting? What language is spoken? Who sets the agenda?
Churches have learned a lot about how to talk to each other. But they've also learned there's more to unity than talk: we need to eat together, pray together, spend time socializing and getting to know each other. We need to share our lives so we're not afraid of each other anymore.
It turns out maybe the best way to get past our historic differences is become friends.
The Faith and Order Plenary Commission will still follow a fairly academic style: professors and theologians and pastors and lay people writing papers, and reading them, and responding to them. But we'll also incorporate storytelling, case study, and illustration into the formal study. The personal will enter into the theological in a deliberate way. We'll also share meals, and fellowship, and worship.
And we'll have Eucharistic celebrations separately, which always feel a bit like a defeat to me.
But it will be more than just talk. And that's what it will take.
Posted by Aimee Moiso