Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Pope's quiet ecumenism

If you've been following my moodlings for a while, you know that ecumenism -- unity among churches and believers in God -- is a cause very dear to my heart. I am certain that Jesus didn't intend for those who follow him to divide up into groups that all claim to be following his way, picking and choosing different aspects of his life and teachings to emulate and emphasize while ignoring everyone else, and I believe that my own church is one of the worst offenders in this regard. Jesus wanted all human kind to understand that love is the bottom line, and inclusion, forgiveness (as we hear in today's Gospel reading), and unity are essential for love to fill the world. Unfortunately, we're human beings who have come to think that we belong to different clubs, forgetting that we all, ultimately, belong to God.

So when a friend sent me a video Pope Francis made earlier this year, it made me happy. It's a seven-minute piece that was recorded on the iPhone belonging to Evanglical Bishop Tony Palmer when he visited Pope Francis on January 14th. The two are friends, and the Pope asked if he could send greetings to a conference of leaders from Kenneth Copeland Ministries, a Pentecostal mega-church convention where Tony would be speaking. They made the video on the spot, and it seems Vatican staff had no idea about it until it appeared on YouTube last week, with subtitles.

Bishop Tony Palmer also impresses me. He uses the Pope's video in the context of an excellent lesson on ecumenism at the conference, which can be seen if you click here. He says, "...diversity is divine, but division is diabolical." And I love Pope Francis' opening words in his seven-minute portion of the video, how he isn't speaking English or Italian, but the language of the heart... a heart that is feeling joy and longing for communion, unity between believers. His message of reunion and reconciliation as a miracle that God will complete somehow is beautiful, too.

It's stories like this that keep me connected to my church even though I am impatient for change. Enjoy!

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