Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Resurrection - Easter, Emmaus and Ecumenism in a sermon by Theo Gill

My own resurrection moment was to be sitting in Cafe Einstein eating my fresh fruit muesli this morning and thinking about colleagues gathering in the chapel and not having to worry about any of it! I do admit that I was a bit sad not to be able to sing one of my favourite hymns "Now the Green Blade Riseth" but it is wodnerful to be on holiday. Yvette Milosevic prepared the service and Theodore Gill preached on the Emmaus text and on Psalm 118: "A Song of Ascents". I wasn't there to experience him preaching but judging by the very approving text messages I got it obviously all went well. [Yes, the stranzblog has spies everywhere! ;0)]
More to the point Theo just sent me the text of his sermon and it was a very enjoyable read and had me chuckling. It makes some very good points about whether we really will all be able to recognise Christ together in the breaking of the bread if our ecumenical fellowship remains incomplete at Christ's table. Easter, ecumenism and Emmaus - are we on the way to full eucharistic fellowship, do we even want to be on that way?
Full text of Theo's sermon can be found here, but here are a couple of extracts:

those two travelers on the road to Emmaus were not the last would-be followers of Jesus to go wandering off on their own, in the wrong direction…
(my wife and I spent Easter weekend in Avignon – a majestic medieval city, but also something of a hiccup in the history of western Christianity… a bridge too far…)
No, they would not be the last to head the wrong way, only to be pulled up abruptly, to be forced to turn around and start over again on the ascent to community.
Nor were these the last disciples to be found standing, sad and dejected, so absorbed in a sense of confusion, doubt and abandonment that they momentarily lost the plot of the gospel narrative. Maureen Dowd, a columnist for the New York Times, wondered just this past weekend: “Why does the church seem more prone to self-pity than self-reflection?” I believe the answer to that question is that disciples are only human – and we disciples require regular doses of revelation to rekindle our hearts and minds.
Sometimes disciples go astray. For more than sixty years, the constitution of the World Council of Churches has held out as a chief goal of our movement the establishment of one, common eucharistic fellowship, so that we together may join in sharing the one bread and together may recognize Christ in our midst. We feature this vision of “one eucharistic fellowship” in our WCC promotional brochures, but…
What have we done about that goal, lately? Have we made six decades’ worth of progress in this area? Or four-and-a-half decades’ worth, since Vatican II?
My wife and I have known one another for forty years. She comes from one tradition of Christianity, and I come from another. Whenever we have taken communion together in the same service of worship, the action has been considered illicit by someone or another. Will we ever share the same bread, licitly? Perhaps at the feast in the kingdom of heaven…? Again, I wonder: What are we honestly doing to hasten the day of a common eucharist, in this life?