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Back again…

April 2, 2011

It’s been a while away from the internet. My thanks for all those who kept it going in my absence. I had the privelege of joining the Salvation Army for a week and going door to door in Christchurch to offer a practical and pastoral response to the people of Christchurch after a major earthquake. It was indeed a privilege and a joy and I am grateful to my parish and family for giving me the time to do it. We had a team of 150 for the week of which about 1/4 (?) were not part of the Salvation Army (but operated under its organisational structure). the 150 went out in groups of 15. I was impressed by the way the operation was entered into as a wholehearted expression of Christian faith and witness and by the quality of the leadership and organisation provided by the army. In many ways it challenged me to think about how an organisation with no place for Eucharist can still maintain a missional structure capable for such a response, when other church structures are nowhere near as prepared or well respected by the government of NZ. I realise there is considerable complexity behind this situation, however, the experience of the week was an encouraging one and part of the encouragement lay in the wholehearted sense of Christian unity. I am grateful to the Sallies for the international expertise they brought to the task.

On another topic (albeit related to Christian unity) I have been reading with constant delight John Howard Yoder’s collection of essays “The Royal Priesthood: Essays Ecclesiological and Ecumenical”. Here’s a quote from the ecumenical section:

“The lazy solution of pluralism reinforces the false view that unity is based on agreement, so that every dispute calls for division. As a matter of fact, disagreement calls not for dividing but for reconciling people. Undertaking that reconciling process at the point of division is more important than affirming common conviction where that can be taken for granted. The difference is more important because it deals with more important issues, namely the ones people differ about. The mandate to be reconciled at the point of difference is the one most often disobeyed by churches in general and especially by pluralistic churches. Thus the functional meaning of church unity is not that people agree and, therefore, work together but that where they disagree they recognize the need to talk together with a view to reconciliation. …” (p. 292)

“The denomination that accepts separation from people from whom one is not profoundly separated and, on the other hand, tries to hold together people who cannot stand each other is, therefore, a particularly inappropriate instrument for authentic expression of the visible unity of believers.” (p. 294)

I hope to post more Yoder soon.

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