This afternoon I went to a meeting of a group called the International Association of Women Ministers over at the Divinity School. I joined this group a few years ago in the same spirit in which St Romero’s joined the Greater Rochester Community of Churches last week: knowing that none of us has the full story, no church or denomination or person has a corner on the Holy Spirit. We need each other. We need to support each other, learn from each other, here on our collective journeys, following the Lord whose way leads through the cross and into resurrection. We need each other for accountability, too. For little churches like St Romero’s I think it’s especially important to stay connected with the larger Body of Christ in whatever ways we can – and there are actually lots of ways to do that. Besides the GRCC (now in the process of changing its name to the Faith in Action Network) and IAWM, there is the Call to Action conference each fall where we can connect with other Catholics dreaming a new RC church into being, and the Federation of Christian Ministries, of which I’m a certified member and which our community can join if we want to eventually, as well. There is a wonderful community of people out here on the edges, what Ched Myers calls “The church of the great renewal”! In that same spirit, we are inviting several other churches to join with us on March 24 when we will celebrate Mass at 7 pm here, to observe the 31st anniversary of Monseñor Romero’s assassination. Please save the date! And plan to join us, if you can. We’ll begin at 5:30 with a pot-luck. It would be great to have musicians that night – let me know if you are interested in helping with that!
It’s easy to get caught up in differences when talking with people of other faith backgrounds. Sometimes the most virulent differences are between people whose faiths are actually pretty similar. It can be easier for a radical Catholic to be tolerant of say, a Muslim or a Jew, than of a more conservative Catholic or an Evangelical Christian. I hope we can find our common ground and be the kind of church God dreams of us being, tolerant of our different interpretations, encouraging each other on our paths.
I believe the most important task of the church is to nurture our relationships with God. Everything else will come out of that. We in the church can get lost in worrying about money, about numbers, about the details of our structures. But the work of the church – the life of the church – is not about control, or safety, or a guaranteed future. Trust and surrender happen in the context of our relationships with God. You don’t trust a dogma, you trust a person. How do we set the world on fire? Person to person, living the Gospel, being the Gospel – being the best people we can be, yes, but knowing we will screw up and it’s all right, keep plugging along anyway. None of us are perfect, and we spend a lot of energy pointing that out about each other. Better to be in awe of each other, in awe at the mystery of each person, each of us “fighting a great battle,” each of us such a gift. We help the world catch fire with relationship, not dogma. Let’s quit fighting about dogma and just love the God who made us, the God who wants us – and love each other – each mystifying, infuriating, wonderful other. Just as we are.
And! Be a church of the poor, a church that stands with the outcasts, the broken, the people in recovery, the people here illegally, and bear the pain they bear, knowing that there is nothing in the world that can ever separate us from God and so there is nothing to fear.
I believe we can do that in a post-denominational way, reaching across our differences, respecting our different ways, loving and following this God who is crazy about us no matter the name of our faith.
Love to all, Chava
PS if you are thinking about joining the trip to El Salvador in April, it’s decision time. http://cieloazulfund.blogspot.com/2011/01/updates-for-our-cielo-azul-study-trip.html?spref=fb
And remember to save the date: Thursday, March 24, 5:30 pot-luck, 7pm Mass. Hope you can come!
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Church in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14603