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One Church, indivisible: Aimee's blog from Crete

Once every five years or so, a group of about 120 men and women, pastors, laypersons, academics, and church leaders get together to talk about the issues that still divide the churches. It's called the Faith and Order Plenary Commission, and its next meeting will take place at the Orthodox Academy of Crete, Greece, 7-13 October 2009.oac

This year, I've been invited to go. 

And I'm writing a blog.


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Divine liturgy and ordinary bread

Monday, Oct. 12, 2009

Sunday morning’s worship was a Divine Liturgy with an Orthodox congregation in the nearby town of Kasteli. The service was in Greek, of course (though we had written translation, and the Scripture and sermon were offered in English for our benefit), and two hours long.

During worship I strained my ears for any words familiar from my seminary New Testament Greek class (koinonia/fellowship/community, Theos/God, Sophia/wisdom, doxa/glory, hagios/holy, dynamis/power), and was pleased to find I understood enough to know where we were on the paper (eureka!). For those of you who’ve attended Orthodox services before, you’ll be happy to know that there were chairs, so we didn’t all have to stand for the whole thing (standing is typical of many Orthodox services).

The difficult moment came at the Eucharist – no surprises there. Here we all were, gathered for the unity of the church, and divided at the table. Though we had worshiped and prayed together, most of us are not in communion with the Orthodox church and cannot participate in Christ’s meal together. The Metropolitan leading the service spoke openly and plainly about our separation. “Now we have come to a moment of pain,” he said. “I speak the truth: I have great pain that we cannot share the meal, but this is why we must keep going.”

Then most of us remained seated while some came forward to receive the sacrament.

After the service, we shared blessed – but not consecrated – bread. A symbol of our partial unity, and the distance left to travel.

Comments Comments

Julia Claire said on Oct 13, 2009
Here truly is where we find the pain and the promise. Thanks for writing about this experience. We need to be aware of what divides and unites... And while it is sad and frustrating, I am thankful for leaders who acknowledge in practice that everything isn't all One, that we aren't in full communion as we ought to be... and amidst that brokenness, call us to work for the unity we are called to in Christ. Thanks for sharing this! JC <><
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