This post was contributed by Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, Secretary General of the Canadian Council of Churches.
As I write this blog on the 2014 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in full awareness of it's theme "Is Christ Divided?", it is Thanksgiving Monday, a time when so many of us focus on the 'unity' of our families and friends. Are unity and division polar opposites in the realities of our faith and families or rather, realities that live side by side and in a kind of tension? I submit that it is the latter and that in fact, the tension of holding unity and division together in our faith and families can be a very creative act. Who among us would expect, when gathered around the Thanksgiving turkey (or in the case of the vegetarians and vegans in my life, the Thanksgiving 'tofurky') or when thinking about and missing those we love who are far away from us on this holiday, that we would all be the same in experience and preferences?
The students are home for the holiday and full of the news of the fun and stresses of university life - exams and papers lurking on the horizon, professors liked and disliked. Who would expect that the student majoring in art history and the student majoring in physics would be having the same kind of experience? In fact, there could even be some rip-roaring disputes at that Thanksgiving table as those two students debate worldviews and the meaning of life. The seniors are visiting from the retirement homes and trying to remember Thanksgivings past, particularly those of the war years in which Thanksgiving and fear, gratitude and loss existed in such tension. There is division in the unity of the Thanksgiving table. It makes the shared meal interesting and if truly savored, creative. In remembering the war years past, in thinking through the contributions of both art and science to our world, we are both enriched and empowered to be ready for the on-going joys and challenges of our world and our role in it.
And it was as I was beginning preparations for the Thanksgiving weekend that I got the news of the preparations in Rome, yes, that Rome, for the English language service to mark the 2014 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Senior representatives of a wide range of Christian denominations, some of which, I confess, I have not even heard of and I thought that with 25 member denominations of The Canadian Council of Churches, there were not very many denominations I had not heard of, are beginning their planning. The English language service in Rome will be focusing on the Week of Prayer's theme "Is Christ Divided?" through the Canadian content of the materials. Their planning for the creative 'un-packing' and wrestling with the theme has begun. How are we doing here in Canada?
A Happy Turkey/Tofurky 'left-overs' week to us all and let the creative wrestling begin!
Photo: Canadian Council of Churches