Third, I hope we can resist the inevitable pull toward fragmentation and sectarianism that seem to be perennial occupational hazards of Christian ministry and mission. I felt this strongly a few weeks back in Marburg, Germany. Our German friends Peter and Bjorn took Jason Clark and me to the Marburg Castle, which overlooks the old city. There in 1529, Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli met to discuss the possibility of uniting the German and Swiss reformation movements. Their meeting ended without concord. As I stood at the castle wall looking over the city, I thought of all the wonderful people Ive met over the last few years, around North America and across the world. What could it mean if we continue to move forward together with open arms rather than crossed arms, with open hands rather than pointing fingers or clenched fists?
Of course, some people find themselves unable to keep their arms and hands and hearts open wide. But for myself, I want to have the posture of Martin Bucer, who kept his arms open to both Luther and Zwingli, working tirelessly to model an irenic attitude, seeking harmony, and staying friends with people who postured themselves as enemies to one another. I understand that Luther at one point coined a word something akin to bucerizing to describe the work of peace-making and bridge building.
I want my arms and hands to be open toward liberals and conservatives, mainliners and Evangelicals, Catholics and Protestants and Orthodox, gay-affirming and gay-accepting-but-not-affirming, Republicans and Democrats. I want to look for common ground and focus on Jesus, the center point who holds all things together for us. I want to see difference as diversity rather than division, and as opportunity rather than threat. I want to show the same respect to people who hold different opinions as I would want them to show to me. Of course Ill fail at this at times, but I hope I never abandon this commitment as my ideal and goal.
Diesen Gedanken und Hoffnungen schließe ich mich gerne an.