Wineskins Archive

December 11, 2013

Tears (Feb 2012)

Filed under: — @ 3:45 pm and

By Anonymous

I’m still relatively new to the area, and very new to the pulpit, I’ve only recently joined my community’s ministerial alliance, where many of the ministers from all over the area come together to study the Bible, fellowship, and plan spiritual events for the entire community.

Yesterday was only my second time participating in this group made up of 40 ministers from nearly 20 different fellowships, and both times I was met with a fair amount of incredulity both because of my age and because of the tradition from whence I come. Some of the comments include: “You’re not allowed to be here, are you?” “I didn’t expect to see you here.” “Aren’t you ashamed to be associating with us unbelievers?” (Ok, ok…lots of them asked, “How old ARE you?”)

This group, the XCMA (X County Ministerial Alliance), always begins by discussing the week’s lectionary passage (don’t know what a lectionary is? Look it up … and think about getting out of your denominational house once in a while), which this week happened to be from John 17. Jesus’ prayer that “they may all be one.” Each of us got to share a few thoughts about this passage. When it was my turn…I repented. I apologized on behalf of all the members of the Churches of Christ who had been hateful and divisive and exclusive and mean. I upheld these ministers’ identity as believers and Christians and expressed a desire to be unified with them, lest the world not recognize that Jesus was sent from God. And guess what…I got a standing ovation…in fact the only ovation of any kind, along with many handshakes and hugs.

Then an older Baptist minister was asked to close us in prayer. He prayed for our group, our churches…and for the “dear brother who has joined us today to take a stand for unity,” and continued to pray for me and the Churches of Christ and since I thought I heard his voice break, I glanced up at him to see tears rolling down his cheeks. He finished and came and embraced me and told me stories of how many times he’d been told that he wasn’t a Christian, how often he’d been excluded and shunned by my brethren. And as a final tear fell from his chin, he thanked me for my simple act of participation.

And so I learned that we have done wrong, that we’ve damaged our own reputation, that we’ve failed to earn respect. This IS important…we can’t afford to be arrogant…we just need to be Christians only…not the only Christians.

Editor’s note: Two editions in a row now, I am breaking one of my own rules and publishing an anonymous article. This one appeared on the blog of a young minister almost seven years ago — Tuesday, May 5, 2005 — and it moved me so much that I saved the text of it. I’m glad I did that. He has since removed the post from that blog. You see, for this and other views deemed too ecumenical, he was relieved of his position and now ministers in sales to support his family. He tells me that he has not preached or written in five years, but is starting to want to again.

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