This morning, before one of the worship services, I was approached by someone who wanted to talk to me. I assumed that this woman, like most people I have spoken with today, wanted to talk with me about the fact that at the end of June Heather and I are headed home. She mentioned it briefly, but what she really wanted to talk about was something that happened a couple of weeks ago on Youth Sunday.
She told me that something we did at Youth Sunday was one of the most meaningful things she had ever experienced in Church. She explained:
Having that young girl who was Catholic preach really touched me and brought together for me some things that I’ve been dealing with my entire life. When it was time for communion I went straight to her to recieve it. You see, when I was growing up (a Methodist in Northwest Indiana) Catholics weren’t allowed to come into our churches.* For weddings and funerals they had to stand outside and peer in through the windows.
Wow! The idea of having a young Catholic woman preach at our United Methodist Church wasn’t even fathomable a generation or two ago. I didn’t think a thing of it as we put together our service; the significance of this ecumenical encounter didn’t really even register with me. It was revolutionary and inspiring for at least one of our congregants though.
And so I find myself wondering… What are the big taboos of today that will seem like no big deal in just a couple of generations? What things do we allow to divide us today that will seem unthinkable to our children and grandchildren? And if these distinctions and divisions will be insignificant 60 or so years from now, why do we let them divide us today and what can we do to overcome those divisions today as we all seek to live into the kingdom of God today.
*My hunch is that this was a prohibition on the part of the Catholics, not the Methodists, but I’m not sure.