Friday, October 09, 2009

ecumenical listening

It's the morning of day three here in Crete--another beautiful day. And, I'm grateful for the beautiful location here on the seashore--the fresh breezes make it much easier to tolerate long days of listening.

Not that I think listening is a bad idea--it's just been that, in these early days, we have lots of presentations to us and little chance for talking about them together. Except, of course, at coffee breaks, which are (thankfully) regular. And outdoors.

Last night we had a caucus of the Methodists here--while I'm one of only two United Methodists, there are folks from Methodist churches in Ireland, southern Africa, Bolivia, Argentinia, Malaysia and more. It was good to meet each other, and to share some of the things we peculiar and Methodist people experience at gatherings like this. I treasure the openness of our communion table, for example--a theological practice that separates us from others. Never suffering from the illusion taht we've got a corner on what it means to be "true Church," we're happy to play with others. And, then, feel a bit rejected when they've got reasons they won't play with us...

Tomorrow, we launch into discussions of how the churches handle moral issues. We'll be using case studies, in an attempt to give us ways to analyze and discuss how we come to discern positions on divise issues. My group will look at a fictional case study of (real) division in the Anglican church over understanding of homosexuality. I'm interested to see if it's possible to talk about how we come to understandings of human sexuality without actually talking about those understandings--do you think we can do this analysis in some kind of removed perspective? My small group reflects the diversity here: young and old, from Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant perspectives, from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, the Americas and Africa. Should be wild.

And I confess that a good part of me just wants to start talking. Enough of this listening to speakers in big groups...

Oh, and the baklava is heavenly.


karen said...

My take on the case study:

I have come to feel/believe/think that getting comfortable feeling uncomfortable is what it's all about.

An open table for all -- an open church for all -- means we will be in communion and relation with people different from us, some of whom make us uncomfortable.

There's beauty in that discomfort, though.

On both liberal and conservative sides, I think we spend too much time trying to reach a point where everyone feels comfortable.

In my experience, that hasn't been God's way. God seems to call me away from places of comfort and the growth and the beauty and even the grace, perhaps especially the grace, come in places of discomfort.

Besides, I make you uncomfortable and you still share communion with me! Right?

May your days of listening (and hopefully talking) continue to be openings to the Spirit and emotional growth for the church/churches/kindom.

Rock on!

RevErikaG said...

Hope the coffee is as good as the baklava....and that you have a chance to speak!
Thanks for the updates on your time in Greece...anyway you'd post a picture of the lovely seashore you're enjoying? Would love to see it!

Krista S. Givens said...

I'll give you plenty of time to talk and not think too much next week! :)

Linda Parker said...

So I guess I will send prayer thoughts for your small group to also have some good conversation that leads to good listening with the intention of understanding.

Love, Mom