In recent years, my family has navigated some rough patches: death, cancer treatments, open heart surgeries, chronic disease, etc. Now, I’m certain this isn’t everyone’s experience, but mine has been that in these times of trauma or tragedy, family comes together to stand with one another as we wrestle through life’s crap. We aren’t picking fights, we are crying on each other’s shoulders.
In recent months, our human family has been enduring an especially rough patch.
Whether in remote villages or urban centers, few have been untouched (in some way) by the realities unfolding.
As I observe our corporate response to tragedy as a human family, and evaluate my own response in the midst of it, I have noticed something disturbing unfold. Rather than rally together as a family navigating a season of trauma, we have used this moment to divide, stir hatred and misunderstanding, point fingers, and more than anything, view those on the opposite side of an issue as less than human.
A global leader in ecumenical movement has alerted participants to the forthcoming World Council of Churches 10th Assembly in Busan, to be aware that they meet in rapidly changing times for world Christianity.
He says there are consequences for all church institutions, including the WCC itself.
Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, in a book timed to coincide with the gathering, says so fundamental are the changes now shaping the Christian world that the WCC will need to "commit to deep change."
It they don't, he says, they could remain largely isolated from the dynamic and growing parts of the church, especially from the global South.
His perceptions are likely to strike a chord at when the World Council of Churches meets in Busan from Oct.30 to Nov. 8 for its 10th Assembly, the highest decision making body of the grouping that represents some 560 million Christians.
Granberg-Michaelson, is a former member of the main governing body of the WCC, its central committee, and worked on the staff of the organization for six years, originally as director of the Church and Society programme.
He says the book, From Times Square to Timbuktu, is an attempt to describe the "growing gulf" occurring in world Christianity, primarily between the burgeoning Pentecostal and evangelical churches in the global South and the declining churches of the global North.
When it comes to sharing the Eucharist among faithful but separated Christ followers, I wonder if Jesus is waiting for the churches simply to be the Church?
For the sake of this uncommon meal and the One who gives himself to us in it we can partake together, not on the shaky foundation of our present tragic divisions but on the firm ground of our promised unity by joining now in the Great Feast we will celebrate with him forever in eternity.
It is, after all, his table. It is a table set not only in the presence of our enemies in this world but set also in the unseen realm of Christ’s anticipated future rule that in a mystery comes to each of our houses of worship simultaneously as we gather in hope to encounter his resurrected person, week in and week out.
In this scenario, we remain mindful and respectful of our present divisions yet act on the coming unity we know is ours now by promise because no prayer of Jesus, certainly not his prayer that we be "one," can ever fail (John 17).