Same service. First day of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Many clergy and laity from Church of Ireland, Presybterian and Methodist churches present. I am sitting in a place of honour beside Bishop John, Bishop of Dromore. As you would expect, the normal rules for ‘eucharistic hospitality’ apply and those of us who are ‘non-Catholics’ [as it were] are not invited to share in the bread and wine of the sacrament.
How do you deal with that situation – that the moment at which unity is most needed is the moment at which it cannot be offered? How do you prevent words like ‘unwelcome’ and ‘excluded’ from floating around in people’s minds. The answer is that you do as Dom Mark-Ephrem did. At the Fraction – the breaking of the bread – he refers to the bread broken, the body of Christ broken on the Cross, the broken and divided body of his church. And he prays for the day when it shall not be so.
And somehow, somehow, instead of this being an ‘us and them’, it becomes a moment at which we all together become part of a shared brokenness. I learnt a lot.
Apart from the Service to mark the closure of Scottish Churches House, I have no other engagement in my diary relating to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Think about that.
I’ll try to do my own bit of prophetic ecumenism tomorrow.