Dancing on the Head of a Pin

There is a legend of St Thomas Aquinas asking "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" At this blog we ask all questions dealing with our faith and spirituality. Some are down to earth, rubber meets the road questions, while others are more lofty...like, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What is Communion?

Yesterday I spent the day at the Bishop's home in Savannah. I am new to the Diocese but I understand the Bishop holds several "priest days" at his home during the year. It was a wonderful time to be able to sit in the Bishop's living room and chat for five hours. I'm not sure how many priests in other dioceses have the same opportunity. It was a very gracious invitation and I appreciated it. The main question that was discussed was the perhaps cerebral and theologically profound question, "What is communion?" By communion, the Bishop didn't mean the Eucharist, but communion in the sense that we are "in communion" with one another. Obviously this is referring to the conversation involving the Episcopal Church's status in the eyes of others in the Anglican Communion. The Windsor Report talks about how we might be able to live in communion when we disagree. Bishop Keyser talked about communion at the last clergy conference and what this means. When the Bishop asked us "What is Communion?" my first instinct was, "It doesn't matter what I think, I'm not making the decisions." And in one sense, I'm right. I'm not making the decision for the Episcopal Church. I am not a delegate to General Convention and I have no vote. But as we started talking about communion and what this means, I realized something. We are expecting, or at least hoping, that the Episcopal Church and our sister churches will continue in "conversation" despite our differences and will learn to live together in the midst of severe disagreement. The problem is, I think, we don't do this in the local parish. When we have disagreement in the parish, what typically happens? Someone leaves. In my experience (limited as that might be - 5 1/2 years as a Methodist minister and going on two months as a priest) when there is disagreement, rarely do we continue living together despite or even in spite of our division. Maybe the difficulty I had in the discussion on communion and maybe the problems many people are having understanding the healing and decision making process at the national level is that it is foreign to the local parish. If this is the case, then how can we remedy our relunctance to address this locally? Do we as priests prefer our "problems" go to the Methodist church or the Lutheran church? Does the laity prefer that "problems" ultimately get tired and quit coming to church? Perhaps the question of communion need to be addressed globally and locally. What is communion. What does it mean to be "in" communion?

Steve +


Blogger King of Peace said...

In writing about the Body of Christ, Paul does not say that we "might be" or "could become" the Body of Christ. He declares "We are the Body of Christ." We are one because we worship one Lord. Whether we like it or not, or acknowledge it or not, we are in communion with all those with whom our Lord is within communion. The sad thing is not that we are not in communion, but that we do not act like it.

Jesus prayed, "Father, may they be one as you and I are one that the world may see and believe." If we Christians could exhibit outwardly that oneness, those without would be drawn in. Instead, we are so divided and divisive that you can't blame people for thinking that God-sized whole in their hearts won't be filled by Christianity.


4:07 PM  
Blogger St Michael's Episcopal Church said...

I agree, but what happens we the one Lord we worship tells two groups two different things?

4:21 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Very good questions--although my experience is that when someone leaves over disagreement over theological issues, it's often a smokescreen for other undealt-with issues in that person's life.

12:55 PM  

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