Around this time 32 years ago I was the first ordained “woman-minister” to stand with an open-hearted Roman Catholic priest on the altar of his parish church in Georgetown, PEI. It created a lot of talk – and quiet hope. In those days.
I am remembering this as we enter into the octave of days known as Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
I am recalling too, liturgical words from the Iona Community, an ecumenical Christian community, spoken at the Table each Sunday in the presence of the ‘world’ who had come off the ferries for this celebration of Holy Communion:
We cannot celebrate the feast of your family
and forget our divisions.
We are one in the spirit, but not in fact.
History and hurt still dismember us. (Wee Worship Book)
This special season for prayer among Christian churches began forming in the late 18th century. In 1980, the Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury set aside the days for prayer for unity. In 1908 the octave, January 18-25 was observed. This is a long time of praying. I can easily touch the discouragement in my heart. History and hurt still dismember us. Institutions change with creaking slowness.
Thirty two years ago, I likely would have called “us” to the early days of the Jesus movement and the unity of being in one place, with one heart-in-Christ.
Now I know. We can’t look back. Our hope for unity rests, not just within the small circle of Christianity but within deep inter-spirituality, the “messy complexity” of sharing meaning, mystery and contemplative being among many, many spiritual traditions.
This Week of Prayer for Christian Unity I will pray for unity within the small cup that is Christianity. And re-member the River that fills all wells.