Sunday, March 11, 2007

Communion and Consensus Part III

Communion and consensus go hand in hand, but one leads the other. Thing is, I'm not always sure which needs to be which.

I think too often we put consensus first and communion second. We have to agree to the list of statements to be allowed in. This is wrongheaded. But not totally wrongheaded. I mean, for people to come together they have to have a reason to come together, no? What is the basis for their communion. Most social clubs or human organizations would gather on the basis of a shared hobby or concern. Any group of people on any given day should be able to embrace their common humanity. It is a tragedy when we don't. But what is Christian communion? It starts with some consensus on who Christ is. But even then, how fully developed does that have to be before it is communion?

I'm not sure what to do with this. Many of us feel that there is little room for dialogue in the church. It can be frustrating, especially when divergent viewpoints that you don't think should divide you either feel unwelcome or seem inevitably divisive. This is frustrating because deep down we all want some consensus, or at least dialogue. It is frustrating for those who are more "settled" in their viewpoints to have new dialogue. It is frustrating for others to move that dialogue forward, to consider new things. On either side, in our obsession for consenus we either shut out those who disagree or we shout down those who disagree.

Thing is, if you shut yourself up and pretend not to care you'll implode. On the other hand, if you say your piece there is a good chance things will explode! How do we go about this?

Sometimes I think we should have to take commuion with our worst enemies. Wow, how powerful would that be. In the grace of Christ we'd sit at a table together around some bread and wine and it would all dissolve in communion. Either that or it would be the fakest communion ever. In a way the drive for consensus can propel us to even more vital communion.

Many of us don't feel understood or listened to by the church and so are frustrated. I'm often one of them. But the more I've listened and tried to understand those who don't seem to want to listen to me the more I've found kindred spirits and a communion I wouldn't really have found otherwise. In other words, our very disagreement propelled the dialogue which brought us around to our common ground and then actually enabled the dialogue we both badly needed. And wanted. That dialogue won't go away over night. Neither should the communion.

Communion and consensus go hand in hand. Communion in Christ must politely lead the other. The search for consensus, however, will inject vitality into communion. And the cycle goes on. And unless Christ unifies by his reconciliatory example and his forgiving power there is no hope for any of it.

I just taught Sunday School this morning and I was easily the youngest person in the room. Not once did I feel it was an issue. In fact I felt like the conversation we had was only diminished by the amount of talking I did. God bless the church. God save the church. Save it from my grimy clutches and save it from the grimy clutches of my forebears. Let Jesus Christ unite and let the Holy Spirit guide and let us all come to the Father through them both for a merciful glimpse of that conversation that has going on between them for all eternity.

That, as of this afternoon, is all I have to say about that.

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