Tuesday, September 13, 2011


This past several days I've been in a whirlwind of ecumenical and inter-faith encounters. I enjoyed lunch on Friday with Rev Joy Blaylock, an old friend of mine who is now pastor of St Paul Lutheran Church (ELCA), really just round the corner from Our Savior. She is, in her own words, passionate about communion and unity.

Sunday was the celebration of our parish feast (Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which we transferred to Sunday evening)—Pastor Chris George of 1st Baptist Church in downtown Mobile was our guest preacher, and his words on behalf of ecumenical outreach and longing for unity were deeply touching.

This week we welcome Rabbi James Rudin to speak in our Christian-Jewish Dialogue; a special meeting of ecumenical and inter-faith clergy will also gather at our Cathedral’s rectory, graciously hosted by Archbishop Thomas Rodi: over coffee and pastries we will converse about the future of Christian-Jewish relations, nationally and locally here in Mobile.

What is the real point in all of this?

Is it just to make us feel good, to feel that somehow because of a few social and intellectual encounters we are breaking down walls of discord? Is it to trick us into thinking that our differences don’t matter, after all, and we can simply hold hands and think we all think (and believe) alike? Is it a desire to make an actual beginning of barrier-breaking, even if we don’t know what the barriers really are, or if any are genuinely necessary for the sake of preserving personal integrity?

For myself, I am immersed in this activity because I am convinced that the destiny of the human race (a destiny we seem wonderful at thwarting) is to unite and be one family in relationships (as we surely are, in genetics). Why should we not long to sing together, “Free at last; free at last; thank God almighty, we are free at last”?

There was an old saying in early ecumenical endeavors: “Doctrine divides; service unites.” I want to modify this: “Sin divides; love unites.” The motto of our Christian-Jewish Dialogue is “Hands that reach will touch.” If I do not reach out, does that mean that I am wrapped up in myself? Probably…

Can we eat together, or pray together, or serve together, or minister together, or witness to justice together, or love together?

If not, why not? Is our family really too big for new brothers and sisters?  Today's title ("All men shall be brothers") comes from Schiller's An die Freude, set famously by Beethoven in his 9th symphony.  The text continues: 
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt? 
[Can you sense your Maker, World?]
Such ihn über’m Strenenzelt!   
[Find him well beyond the Stars]
Brüder, über’m Sternenzelt      
[Brothers, well beyond the Stars]
Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen.  
[Surely dwells a loving Father.]

I want to be part of the family; who wants to join me?

I hope you will enjoy the section of Beethoven's last symphony which includes these words and this sentiment.  Ut unum sint!

1 comment:

  1. Amen my friend! Before Rob Bell wrote his book, my motto had been and still is "Love Wins".