As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this Sunday (!), we have an opportunity to worship together with Roman Catholics to commemorate the occasion. There will be an ecumenical service this Friday, Oct. 27, at 7:00pm called “From Conflict to Communion: a Lutheran-Catholic Commemoration of the Reformation” at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Chapel Hill.
There have been quite a variety of reactions to the publicity of this event, and many folks were puzzled. It makes sense to commemorate the Reformation among Lutherans, but why would Catholics want to be involved? Isn’t this somehow celebrating division or saying that we don’t want old wounds to heal? Why would we celebrate differences that we can’t seem to resolve?
As many of you know, these questions hit close to home for me because my husband Brian is Roman Catholic, with a Master of Divinity degree at that.
When we were dating, especially as things got serious, we often got comments like “What are you going to do about church? Will one of you convert? That’s going to get complicated…” And while folks have a point – it does get complicated – our honest response was always that our faith is one of the main things we have in common. Yes, I’m a Lutheran pastor, and yes, Brian is a Roman Catholic lay minister. Yes, we have differences of theology and tradition, but our commitment to God is the same.
You see, our differences come from the same source: our desire to be faithful to God. And as we live out that desire with integrity, we land in different places. But the commitment is the same.
And so, we honor that place of unity – that desire for faithfulness, that commitment to integrity – even if it means Sunday mornings are messy, and even if it means we disagree. But we find that we are of the same mind and heart more often than not.
Last year, on Reformation Day 2016, Pope Francis and Bishop Mounib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation, penned a Joint Statement. They wrote, “Through dialogue and shared witness we are no longer strangers. Rather, we have learned that what unites us is greater than what divides us.”
I hope that you will consider joining us for worship on Friday and celebrating our common commitment to the God who creates us in great diversity. And, check out the video interview the Brian and I did with the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh last week: http://dioceseofraleigh.org/offices/communications/multimedia/raleigh-to-rome
Peace be with you+