Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Spiritual Gift of Ecumenical Adventures

Yesterday, we went to a Mass that celebrated the First Communion of a daughter of our friends.  Before the service started, my spouse said to me, "This is the second Catholic church we've been in this week."

On Monday, we were in a Catholic church for our BOLD Justice Nehemiah rally out in the suburbs.  Yesterday, it was a Catholic church in an older part of Ft. Lauderdale.  Both churches had a school and huge parking lots.

The suburban church had 3 entrances, each with a vestibule, each one leading to a wing of the sanctuary.  Over each entrance was a balcony.  The vaulted ceilings and extensive sound system made the space feel modern.

The older church yesterday had three entrances which led directly to the sanctuary.  No vestibule at all.  The AC system was not hidden away, as it was in the more modern church.  The ductwork wasn't exposed but it might have well been.  Along the side walls were statues, and some had rows of votive candles in front of them.

The service itself felt familiar, except for one key point.  It was bilingual throughout (but not consistently).  For each hymn, we sang a verse in English and then in Spanish.  The Psalm was done in similarly.  The priest gave his sermon in English and then in Spanish.  The Bible readings, however, were done only in English.

My spouse went up for Communion, but I didn't.  At my nephew's First Communion last year, the Lutherans in the family decided not to go up, so yesterday, I chose to stay seated.  I'm puzzled by my choice.  At Mepkin Abbey, I commune.

Lutherans have understandings with many denominations that let us commune together, and with some denominations, to be hired by churches of a different denomination.  I hope Pope Francis makes some of those agreements.  I have many Catholic friends, and I'd like to be free to commune with them.

Sure, I'd like to see female priests too.  I would have quite an ambitious agenda for Pope Francis, if I was the one in charge.

But I digress.

Now it is time to get ready for today's spiritual experiences.  I'm in charge of the 9:45 service, and then I'm Assisting Minister at the 11:00 service.  It's a healing service, so there will be more to do.  And then, my spouse and I are part of the team that counts the money.

It's a wide variety of tasks, and some day, perhaps I'll write an essay that weaves together all those strands.  I made a start with this post about the spiritual gift of counting money after church. 

Soon we will be at the festival of Pentecost, that time where we think about our spiritual gifts.  I notice that Saint Paul never mentions counting the money either.

Sure, I'd like a flashier spiritual gift:  to be able to heal immediately with the laying on of my hands or the ability to prophesy the future.  Of course, those probably come with some fairly severe drawbacks.

Ah, the eternal task:  to appreciate the gifts that I have, without envying the gifts bestowed to others.  And perhaps the ability to appreciate ecumenical adventures is another kind of spiritual gift that Saint Paul doesn't discuss.

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