Monday, April 06, 2015

It's a Reformation Centennial and We Aren't Slinging Mud?

For centuries, the annual Reformation observances in Lutheran parishes were opportunities to reassert Lutheran pride, and denigrate Roman Catholics. Anti-Catholic sentiments run deep among Protestants. Judgment of non-Catholics runs deep still in much of Roman Catholic thought.

But this has been changing, and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation will likely be the first centennial at which Roman Catholics and Lutherans work towards Lutheran-Catholic unity instead of mutually reinforcing ressentiment.

Augsburg Fortress (a Lutheran publishing house), in cooperation with Liturgical Press (a Catholic publishing house), recently published one contribution towards Lutheran-Catholic unity, a lovely little book: One Hope: Re-Membering the Body of Christ

The book was written using a collaborative writing process known as Book Sprints. It's a process worth checking out, perhaps even using in your congregation or synod or with any team of folks hoping to write a book.

Here's what is unique about this book. Instead of approaching ecumenical conversation from traditional theological topoi, they approach ecumenism around the mutual sharing of gifts in the actual faith practices of the traditions, including prayer, meal, song, forgiveness, service, death, and sojourning. For example, the authors write:
Ecumenical work between Lutherans and Roman Catholics has been described as a "mutual exchange of gifts." In few places has this exchange led to such an abundance of riches for both churches as in their singing traditions. For many who are happy to leave the finer points of doctrine to specialists, singing each other's music is the flesh and blood of greater church unity. In other words, singing and worship have been a fertile area of applied ecumenism where the body of Christ is re-membered. Singing does not just feel good, it does good. One adjective often given for the hopes of our churches is that their unity will be more visible. Singing will bring our families and our churches closer together in an audible unity, too.
I think I love imagining the process of the team writing this book as much as I love actually reading the book. The group shared a bit of their journey while it was in process. Often writing is a solitary enterprise, and certainly there's a place for the age-old process of a single author hiding out in a private space composing what can only be written in the privacy and quiet that the solitary affords. But team writing, though difficult, brings another set of gifts, not the least of which is the living ecumenism it exemplifies simply in the practice of it.

So I encourage one of two responses to the publication of this book. Option one: read it with an ecumenical group of readers in anticipation of 2017. Option two: Take it as a model, and assemble a small team of folks from the two traditions to learn together and create something of lasting import, a contribution to the celebrations in 2017, growing together in the one hope we have in Christ, remembering the body of Christ, and mutually exchanging gifts God has so lavishly bestowed.

No comments:

Post a Comment