Monday, February 08, 2010

Belhar Confession

Our pastor has been preaching on the anti-Apartheid Belhar Confession, not because we have a problem with racial segregation (which we probably do in some sense but that's another story) but because of the ideal of unity and reconciliation in general. He pointed to Nelson Mandela as an example of what a spirit of reconciliation can accomplish and to the US federal defense budget of 741 billion dollars as an example of what it costs to live in a world without reconciliation.

We have heard a lot over the years from our pastor about how we shouldn't quarrel about nonessentials and that there are more nonessentials than we might think. So Catholics venerate saints? What does that matter as long as we agree that Jesus is lord and love one another? Sprinkling or dunking; wine or grape juice; transubstantiation or not. None of these are worth being divided over. Sins? Forgiven. Next objection! Political differences? Get real, they're not important from a cosmic perspective and they're not even that profound when you examine them closely with tenderness and humility.

The Belhar Confession goes even further and concludes that we ought as a church to struggle against injustice, that the credibility of our ambassadorship for Christ is impaired if we sit by while injustice is done and say nothing, risk nothing. With all the suffering and injustice in the world, shouldn't we be able to set aside our petty differences and doctrinal squabbles and do something? At least say something?

If the church is silent about the holocaust in eastern Congo, the most horrific example with seven million dead that I can think of, do we not signal our indifference or even our approval of what is going on there? Shouldn't we forget about our differences until this kind of injustice has been addressed? How can we waste ourselves in arguments about the liturgy with those kinds of nightmares going on? There is the work of the kingdom to be done.

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