So, I admit that perhaps I am at time too idealistic…I grew up in a very small town that was the quintessential New England small town complete with a General Store. However, I read last week where a CT Lutheran Pastor was forced to apologize to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) (see http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/07/16882169-lutheran-pastor-apologizes-for-taking-part-in-sandy-hook-service ) for giving the benediction at a prayer service for the shooting victims in Newtown, CT. Apparently, the LCMS denomination’s constitution prohibits any of their pastors from participating in an inter-faith service. The LCMS gives the reason as that by standing side-by-side with non-Christian clergy in public religious events they give the impression that Christ is just one path among many. So, they would rather not join with their community, those that might be seeking, those that are trying to make some sense out of a senseless act and situation, and would prefer to refrain from comforting the community unless they come into the Lutheran Church.
However, while this is an example from a Lutheran church, it is not limited to that denomination; it’s just that may of the others don’t have it written down! Ok, sure, most churches would not have a problem participating in a vigil for such a tragic act as this, but I find it amazing that to get Christian churches to rally around a more pedestrian common cause is virtually impossible. Case in point: I volunteer with a para-church organization, Shepherd Project Ministries. This past Christmas season we produced an event which was a Gingerbread House Contest with entertainment, a craft bazaar, and other festive family events. Our goal was to have churches rally together and use the event to tell the true meaning of Christmas. We gave (read free) each church that participated a table to advertise their Christmas events and promote their church. Out of 60+ local churches we had 2 that joined with us! Only 2—I thought that many Bible-based churches would have jumped at the chance to reach out to their community, but sadly, we just don’t work together well. I wonder how much greater impact Bible believing churches could have if we would find our commonalities and come together around those, than debate/argue our differences? (and frankly, at least four churches in our town have doctrinal statements so similar if you stripped off the names I’m guessing you would be hard pressed to match the statement to the church)
Until next time….Pondering….