My friend Derek has a good Carnival going that is exploring Common Prayer. I admit to having some fundamental questions about the whole notion of a Common Prayer, and the (overdone?) role that worship practices play in the ELCA’s ecumenical dialog. Why must Christian Unity be evidenced in worship? What of the other 167 hours of the Christian’s week?
A few unpolished thoughts, with more clarity to come later this week:
- an ecumenical movement that emphasizes theology, liturgy, sacraments, clergy rosters, ordination practices, worship practices, etc. is inherently hierarchical, the domain of a privileged class of church leaders. How is this dialog meaningful to most people in the pew and to our Christian witness to the world?
- for some real dry reading, check out the ELCA’s vision for ecumenical dialog.
- what of the Christian call to serve the neighbor? What role should striving for justice and peace have in the ecumenical dialog? Can we talk of a Common Calling, a Common Vocation, a Common Life, in addition to (or in lieu of) a Common Prayer?
- I’ve spent the past nine months in a hospital with lots of suffering folks. I’ve listened to many, prayed with some, cried at times. So tell me, what does a 40-page document on sacramental theology have to do with the suffering of the common person?
I like liturgy and worship, and think that shared worship practices can be powerful vehicles for Christian Unity. But I question whether Christian Unity must be expressed in common prayer, or if common faith and common living cannot be a more powerful witness to our unity in Christ Jesus than worship behind walls and closed doors . . .