In her one-woman show, “In Search of Intelligent Life in the Universe,” Lilly Tomlin’s bag lady character quips, “When I was young I always hoped someday I would be somebody. Now I realize I should have been more specific.”
The life of the Church is lived in the tension between the specificity we individually hope for and the ambiguities we corporately construct. The question of ecumenism is, “Are these ambiguities more reflective of our sin or the Lord’s grace? Are they products of healthy diversity or unhealthy carelessness and stubbornness? How hard do we press against them and when do we learn to live with them and even celebrate them? We know Jesus prayed that we who believe in him would be one, but does oneness come because of theologizing our way to agreements or in spite of our failures to see things eye-to-eye? Is unity grace or good works?”
This issue of Let’s Talk, with gracious and hard working Frank Senn and Nicholas Zook as issue editors, is special in several ways. It is our first issue to be devoted to a concern to be addressed at an upcoming Synod Assembly: ecumenism. True to this journal’s philosophy we try to stir debate on this issue by providing a variety of perspectives, each informed by local experience and “local theology.” We try also to break the barriers and take the debate a bit beyond the confines of the specific resolutions that may surface at the Assembly.
This issue will also be the first to be targeted to all the delegates, both rostered and lay, to the Assembly. We thank the Synod’s Office of Ecumenical Relations for its grant of $300 to help us fund distribution of this issue.
We ask your help in our endeavor. We hope to reach all delegates with mailed copies of this issue in time to be read and considered before Assembly, and we will make extra copies available at the Assembly registration tables and at the table staffed by the Synod’s Office of Ecumenical Relations. But we ask all pastors of congregations to please poll their lay delegates to determine if they received a copy of this issue of Let’s Talk. If not, please photo-copy your copy and distribute it to those who need it.
Please read and study this and other materials relating to our important decisions regarding ecumenism.
Within a world of ambiguities we are clear and certain about our Lord’s passion for unity among believers. The decisions ahead of us at the 1996 MCS Assembly and the 1997 Churchwide Assembly demand from us informed and prayerful actions. Reading and responding to this issue of Let’s Talk will be a decisive step in that direction.