I am fully committed to interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, and I cherish and respect the diversity of worship and theology I come in contact with daily. The worship service we had at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church on October 22nd was beautiful and moving, and as a member of the planning team, I am very proud of the work we did to make it so wonderful. But…
…the Reformation is not over, and I am not satisfied with where we are . Protestants and Catholics get along so well, so it is easy to think that our work is done. But it’s not. And here is why: until all Christians are welcomed at all communion tables, we will never truly be united in our faith. We don’t have to have the same name or the same liturgy, but we do need to have the same respect for God and each other. As long as there are human barriers to what we all consider to be sacred gifts from God, there will always be problems between our denominations.
A sacrament is a sacred gift from God that nobody can earn. Receiving a sacrament does not require a certain knowledge set. It does not even require a high level of awareness. When I offer holy communion to a person with Down’s Syndrome or a person with dementia, I cannot refuse them because they do not understand what it means. There is a level of mystery that no human being can understand completely, and to demand any of these things is to miss the point completely.
I pray that one day our Christian communities will all be one, at least in spirit. And I am grateful for those brave priests who follow Jesus enough to ignore the foolish notions of those who would keep us divided. We must always keep reforming, because change is the very center of who God is. But until then – the Reformation isn’t over. Peace.
Steve Ohnsman has been the Pastor of Calvary United Church of Christ in Reading, PA, since 1999. He has a B.A. in Religion & Philosophy from Wilmington College (OH), an M.Div. from Drew Theological Seminary (NJ), a D.Min. from United Theological Seminary (OH), and a Ph.D. from Alvernia University (PA).