This Sunday Reconciler will be focusing on The Week (Octave) of Prayer for Christian Unity by as has been our custom using a form of the ecumenical Lima Liturgy in our 5 pm worship service. On Monday I will be attending LSTC's Multicultural worship service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. followed by luncheon and discussion.
These things multicultural worship, Martin Luther King Jr., racial reconciliation and justice, and ecumenism should be held together. Yet, as both Reconciler's practice and LSTC"s event show it is difficult to do so. Martin Luther King Jr. Day always falls around the Octave of prayer for Christian Unity and often the Sunday within the Octave falls on the Sunday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day. However, I am unaware of a congregation or group of Christians celebrating both things at once.
I feel we have a missed opportunity as divided Christians in the U.S. to break free of our "Americanism" and celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. as a call to leave aside our fragmentation, and embrace unity and diversity that calls especially Christians of European descent to repent of the sins of racism, ethnocentrism and segregation. There are calls from many corners of American Christianity decrying that still the most segregated (least unified) period of time for American Christians is when we gather for worship on Sundays.
The unity of divided Christians then (especially in the United States, but not only here) is not simply about division around denomination our doctrinal differences but also race and ethnicity.
So, on Monday I'm attending LSTC's event not only in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. but also to pray for Christian Unity, that we may be drawn beyond of all the lines that we have drawn that divide us from one another. Recognizing that to some extent that the Reconciliation needed isn't simply crossing denominational boundaries but also an issue of justice.
This years reflection on the Week of Prayer for Christian provided by the Christians in Canada, provides us Christians with the soul searching and experience of our neighbor to the North on the confluence of the various ways we Christians have contrived to divide ourselves. Even though we would want to affirm that Christ is not divided and yet, around ethnicity, race denomination and other differences we find it impossible to join together. Some of these divisions it is important to remember come out of patterns of injustice, from which some parties (White Christians) need to repent, as well as patterns engrained by more neutral processes of history.
However, this seems to reinforce for me that we Christians in America should take this opportunity to honor Martin Luther King Jr. by joining our celebrations with prayers for Christian Unity, for the racial divide divides Christians in this country, in direct contradiction to our calling as members of Christ. We need to pray for a softening of our hearts, praying for reconciliation and seek to find ways to join together. Justice, Reconciliation, and Unity among Christians are of one cloth, we should begin to practice this. The confluence of these two celebrations offers us a great opportunity to live more fully into our unity in Christ.