Saturday, 18 July 2009

Praying in Unity: Steward's Praying the Lord's Prayer

In the days leading up to the CEC assembly we, the stewards, were not just introduced to each other, but also participated in a number of ecumenical activities. One of the activities that we in small groups had to arrange together was the morning worship service. But how do you create a worship service together when you are separated by cultural and doctrinal borders? Should we focus on the things we agree on (convergence), essentially avoiding the classical theological controversies surrounding worship service, or rather talk about things we do disagree over, but attempt a compromise?
The approach of the stewards cannot so be “systematically categorized”. In observing the steward’s planning of morning's worship service one might be tempted to characterize it as "slightly chaotic". It was however not the sort of chaos from which tears, disagreements or resentment would “blossom”, but instead the end result was a fruitful and engaging one for all of us, I feel.
A group of 6-8 stewards with different or similar denominational background would come together to arrange the morning service. There was no moderators, no red tape, just intention. The steward services included typically, song, biblical readings, reflection, various symbolic gestures, silence and, here I get to my point, the Lord’s Prayer.
Vaterunser, Tatăl nostru, Isä meidän, Notre Père, Pater noster, Fadervor … and so on, or simply, in English, the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer, which was common to all of us, was a genuine example of a “unity in diversity”. Language separated us, but the prayer united us.
Never having prayed in this way it dawned on me the first time we prayed together that not only were we “simply” worshiping God, but in fact this was an “ecumenical activity”. It tied us together. I suppose I had imagined that “ecumenical progress” constituted officials meeting other officials, staff meetings, treaties, etc., that is that ecumenism is an activity enjoyed by the ecclesiastical authorities and the people just follow their church. Ecumenism is an activity enjoyed by all people, but the lay people especially, when they do get together, seem to achieve greater results at times than the ecclesiastical authorities, because the latter, at times, fancy doing “doctrinal border-patrolling” than actual ecumenical work…
Regardless there is plenty of hope for ecumenism if we look at the stewards of 2009 and for CEC. The stewards of today I hope will be the delegates of tomorrow.
Christian Bogh.
Stud. Teol. Uni of Copenhagen,

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