Too long off “the blog” but a week at the National Workshop on Christian Unity in Chicago and a hasty return to New York for the Pope’s visit hasn’t left much “blogging time!”
The National Workshop on Christian Unity brings together between three and four hundred ecumenical officers and other ecumenists for an annual continuing education event where updates on the various dialogues and ecumenical activities are shared. The three largest groups of attendees are Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans in that order, followed by Methodists, Presbyterians, Disciples, UCC and others.
This year we participated in seminars on everything from the new Anglican – Orthodox agreed statement “Church of the Triune God” to a presentation on “the Emerging Church.” Worship included an ecumenical vespers with a sermon by a Franciscan nun to a joint Lutheran – Episcopal – Methodist Eucharist presided over by the Episcopal Bishop of Chicago and a fine sermon by the United Methodist bishop who is a convert from Buddhism. I preached at a Churches Uniting in Christ Eucharist in a Baptist-UCC church in downtown Chicago which has hosted Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Dr Martin Luther King.
Our Bible studies were led by an archaeologist who has worked at Tantur Biblical Institute in the Holy Land, taught at Hebrew University, and now runs a study center in Georgia which recreates excavated biblical sites. He was fascinating as he explored the conference theme “Pray Without Ceasing” and pointed out that “praying in Jesus’ name” means more than tagging “in Jesus’ name” as a formula at the end of our prayers.
For example: “Strike them dead, O God, for I ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen” is NOT praying in the name of Jesus.
“Nevertheless not my will but thine be done. Amen” IS praying in Jesus name — with or without the formula!
An ecumenical insight worth remembering!