In the first part of this series, I introduced you to my new noun, Ecumenical. In last week’s post, I shared a bit more about this definition. Today, I want to share ways in which you, too, can live as an Ecumenical.
Living as an Ecumenical means acknowledging and appreciating every facet of the whole diamond, which is the Christian Church, rather than thinking that the unpolished part needs to be removed or only one facet ever gleans the brightest. It means going back to the mystery that is found in our faith and creeds.
Being an Ecumenical means valuing the richness and uniqueness of each tradition within our Tradition. It means we acknowledge that there won’t always be unanimity, but we’re ok with that because we know that unity does not require uniformity. It means we remember and live as if we are a family. As the scriptures remind us, just as an ear can’t say to the eye ‘I have no need for you,’ we in one tradition can’t say to another, ‘I have no need for you.’ Instead, we work to be together trusting that we are more than our specific and particular tradition.
When you’re an Ecumenical, you can honor, respect, and even practice spiritual rhythms from the whole Christian Church. I believe this because my spiritual life has flourished as I’ve started incorporating spiritual rhythms from the diversity of the Christian tradition.
For instance, I worship with Gospel music, do the daily office or fixed hour prayer with the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer, pray through the use of icons similar to the Orthodox church, try to spend 10-20 minutes a day in centering prayer and meditation as practiced by many Catholic individuals, study sermons like a good Evangelical but also think Communion, or the Eucharist, is a better sermon than the best preacher could ever preach, and I read as many authors who are not from my tradition as possible.
So, what I’m really saying is that if you’re thinking of planting a church that plays a lot of Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond, follows the Episcopal liturgy, does weekly communion, and has a bunch of icons in the sanctuary...do it. That would give me so much life. I’d tithe you all my money.
Being an Ecumenical also means practicing justice, fighting racism, dismantling white supremacy, creating equitable spaces, renouncing war and violence, overcoming poverty, protecting and caring for all of creation, pursuing spiritual, emotional, and physical health, building a greater understanding of our neighbors, and partnering with other faiths and organizations who are doing similar work rather than competing with or combating them.
And for goodness sake, being an Ecumenical means we’ve got to stop fighting, and bickering, and blaming, and belittling other Christians who may think differently from us. It means having the humility and the gracious freedom to realize that we don’t have the whole faith tradition figured out and that maybe we are wrong about a few things here and there and that just because someone thinks differently does not mean this person is a heretic.
And, being an Ecumenical means trusting that God has been, and still is, on the move, making all things new and that God continues to be up to something good in our world. As Ecumenicals, we’ve got to get on board and keep up with the movement of Spirit.
Imagine if we lived like this. Imagine if we lived as Ecumenicals. Would it bring you hope? Would it speak deeply to your soul? Would you want to be a part of something like that? Honestly, I think it would. And truthfully, I think I’m all in.
See, I’ve fallen in love, not with one particular church, but with the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
I stand in awe not only of my tradition, but of our Tradition.
I want to practice the faith with not only a few Christians, but with the depth of Christianity.
I affirm one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
And I believe that when we do this together, in unity, then all people will know God is love.
So, perhaps I’m not an Evangelical. But, I am an Ecumenical. I hope you’ll join me.