Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Exploring Denominational Diversities

        A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair; hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.


This prayer, to me, says it all. In a simple and direct way it puts the role of the Christian into perspective. To pray it, redirects one's heart to what matters most-God's will. It's God's will we sow seeds of peace, that we love and forgive others, that we be like burning lamps blazing brightly to cast light in the world's darkness, to give hope to those who haven't any. I love the second part of the prayer too because it puts the focus off ourselves and on others. The theme of love rings out in this prayer-love for God, love to do His will, and love for our fellow man.

It's kind of amusing but the first thing that I was compelled to write was a disclaimer that I wasn't catholic because the prayer is from a catholic saint. I guess that's the early evangelical blood running in my veins! When I was first born again I tried out a few churches, but having received the message of the gospel from the words and ministry of Chuck Swindoll, I was drawn to an evangelical, Bible-based church.  I loved that church but I did find out early on that not every denomination was as open and accepting towards every other denomination. Catholicism, with its predictable and ritualistic liturgical prayers and other customs and outlooks, was frowned upon.

It wasn't until I went to a Catholic college and met some very dedicated sisters in Christ that took their faith every bit as seriously as I took mine that I realized there wasn't as much of a difference between them and I as some would make it out to be. Though we had slightly varied patterns that defined us somewhat differently we were all cut from the same cloth. We were all part of the same family and body that is Christ.

It was also, later on, in fact pretty recently, that I discovered Thomas Merton, a catholic monk and writer who I have read and respect greatly as well as many other catholic voices that ring out with truth and light and life. So, I suppose the point of all of this is and my advice, for whatever it is worth, is to not be a "denominational snob", (which I naively started out as). Instead I would encourage you to open yourself up to new experiences and new points of view. For sure, if something seems to not ring true with the Bible, it should be avoided, but there are many different ways to worship, many different ways to pray. To explore the diversity which God has imprinted in the hearts of man to reach up to Him and seek His holy face, can be a changing event in one's life. And a renewing time in one's faith.

It is my view that it gives God no glory to continually point out the differences that we have with other brothers and sisters in Christ but that God wants us to simply see Christ in others and have others see Christ in us. All other differences are superficial. If one is misrepresenting Scripture and God, then that is one thing, but if one's way to worship, pray or commune with God differs from our own, it should be respected and even investigated as a potential path for us to explore and practice to enrich our own experiences and invigorate our own faith.

~ abundant blessings in Christ

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