Monday, January 30, 2012

The Importance of Working and Learning Together

This last week has been a celebration of Christian Unity, an
event churches around the country have observed including here in Sheridan. The
Sheridan Ministerial Association held a joint worship service last Tuesday at
First Presbyterian Church as a number of churches came together to affirm a
common bond and purpose in the midst of our differences.

That spirit of working together finds so many avenues. In
Lunch Together, this spirit connects many different churches and organizations
together in providing a common space and the sharing of bread. It found itself
in how the Sheridan Ministerial Association and Pastors United in Christ worked
together last fall in a Habitat for Humanity build. And there is the work of
the Wyoming Association of Churches which connects congregations across the
state in dialoging on important justice issues..

The common thread behind such work, beyond the prayer and
hope as expressed in John’s Gospel that we might be one, seems to be an
awareness that in working together we can do more then when we are apart. We
can do more to improve the life prospects of others when we work together. I
won’t hazard a guess of what would happen if this was taken to heart in our Congress
but I am convinced something of this principle is at work in our community.

And there is another principle I see at work. The belief
that God is not just found in my community but can be also found at work in
other church communities and that we may learn something of God in engaging
these other churches, in ways that can transform our sense of things. But I see
no reason why the principles of working together for a common good and learning
of God in the other should stop at the church’s doorstep.

That is, these two principles can easily be the basis by
which churches can expand the conversation, to not only include other churches
but also other religions. As religious diversity increases across the country
and in this state, the need to relate across religious boundaries increasingly
calls for interfaith work, something that is already happening from Casper to

And such a process need not be just about different
religions working together. It can also entail religious bodies relating to
different organizations who are not religious but are working on the questions
of human betterment. The dialogue between religious bodies and the sciences, community
groups, and higher education is increasingly a fruitful one.

This happens not because we ignore or downplay our
differences, those things which make us unique. Rather such dialogue works
because our differences are seen as gifts we have to share with one another. A
model for this is found in the second chapter of the book of Acts with the
beginnings of the church, where all the people who had gathered together
understood each other in their own respective languages. They could understand
each other without losing their own way of speaking.

Since I have moved to Sheridan, I have been privileged to be
part of efforts to work and learn together, by being included by a number churches,
individuals, and organizations across this community who help make this happen
on a regular basis. Thanks for what these groups and individuals do. We’re all
better for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment