I will admit that the past few days have left me with a mix of emotions from depression to anger and back again. Yesterday, it was anger mixed with just plain grouchiness. Plus I was stressed because I wasn’t getting enough work done due to (see above).
Then a wondrous thing happened. About forty young people arrived at church along with their teacher to learn about Lutherans. The group was from the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit institution. The class is “What Is Catholicism?” and is a requirement for all students. So it was a pretty mixed bag of Catholics and Protestants (no Lutherans, though). They were visiting various Christian churches and our place on the schedule followed a field trip to an Eastern Orthodox church.
Their teacher had emailed me earlier to confirm and had warned me that his class was feeling pretty upset by the election results, so we might want to deal somehow with that. So my colleague, Anders Peterson from Middle Circle, and I set up a space with a few candles and planned some songs and readings that we could use, depending on the needs of the group.
The students arrived with the kind of energy that only young college students have. Once we got them all settled in, we read a statement and call to action from The Charter for Compassion:
- the process used in Christian-Jewish dialogues that led to repudiation of anti-Semitic writings of Martin Luther and expressions of sorrow and repentance
- the differences in Communion practices between Lutherans and other Christian churches – what kind of bread, for example
- who was allowed to receive Communion
- our understanding of baptism
- why we don’t use the Nicene Creed (which is a First United decision, not a pan-Lutheran one)
- could Lutheran ministers get married
There were many nods of agreement, but there were also a few exchanges of differences, for instance in the use of the Creed.
But it was all done with good will, curiosity, and respect. A real intrafaith encounter! It warmed my heart on an otherwise bleak day. People of differing backgrounds and practices coming together to learn about one another can only contribute to peace in the world.
A revolution of love! Yes!