I am aware that many regard "ecumenism" as a dirty word. I am not among them.
Those who attended Mark's and my wedding should not be surprised. It was conducted by a Methodist, a Lutheran and a Southern Baptist. Sorta sounds like the beginning to a good joke, doesn't it? Yet our life together has been no joke. Far from it. Still, neither Mark nor I would have it any other way.
Our relationship - centered on divine love - has informed all of our other relationships: those that existed before we met and those we developed after. We are not the center of each others' lives. God is. But we play an extremely close second. That hasn't always been easy or healthy.
Our individual identities and our shared identity as Mark-and-Joy easily entwine, at times, with other dominant relationships. That makes us a force that isn't always helpful, for example, concerning matters of work (we've shared an employer for more than a decade) or children, namely Stross (and his lifetime of educational and medical interventions). But when we get our synergy moving in positive motion - there is nothing on earth like it.
I credit our marriage to God; I am grateful our marriage has ecumenical roots.
How incredible would it be if the churches of earth could do the same?
I listened with awe two weekends ago as my friend, Debby Chenoweth, shared stories of her 15-day ecumenical journey with the ELCA's Presiding Bishop Rev. Mark Hanson. In February, the ELCA's traveling delegation met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams; His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I; and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, among other global church leaders.
I so would have loved to have tagged along.
As Debby tells in my vlog, this was more than the trip of a lifetime - it was a trip beyond a lifetime. And as she also shares, everywhere they went, she sensed that Lutherans were regarded as being capable of bringing people to the table.
Bringing people to the table. Isn't that what Jesus asked the disciples to do? To go out and invite others in - not picking and choosing who got the invitations - but making the invitations because the banquet table was ready.
Ample food. Ample drink. Bountiful portions of grace and love.
Holy Week is about to begin. Not just in your life but in lives the world over. What does it mean to you? To them? To us?
I hope it means you know you have a seat at the table.
Amen. May it indeed be so.
ELCA Delegation Meets World Church Leaders
ELCA Presiding Bishop, Delegation Meet Archbishop of Canterbury
ELCA Ecumenical Delegation Visits Church of England, Anglican Communion
World Orthodox Leader Tells ELCA Delegation Dialogue Will Continue
ELCA Delegation, Pope Benedict XVI Meet, Exchange Greetings
ELCA Delegation, Roman Catholic Ecumenists, Discuss Future Vision