Last night I had scheduled to host the youth group (the senior high youth group draws teens from both St. Stephen’s and from St. Olaf’s Lutheran Church – our full-communion partners) at my house to watch the second half of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The second half of the first of the three Lord of the Rings movies. We had started it some time ago, and never gotten back to it, yet. In the end, 2/3 of the group weren’t going to be able to make it, so we postponed the movie night until this next Friday. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie or even read the book – but there’s an interesting thing that happens at the end of the Fellowship.
The group breaks apart.
Torn apart by selfish ambition and by lack of clear leadership (Gandalf was the one who held the group together, whose leadership they would all accept), the members of the Fellowship seek self above purpose, above friendship, above teamwork. The evil one sows seeds of discord. When they are attacked, they are already scattered from one another and unable to stand as they should. The results? One dies, defending two others; those two are captured; another two leave without the others; the three that remain do not accept that the Fellowship is broken, “…not as long as we remain true to each other.” And they set off after the two who have been captured.
There has been some talk of discord among Christians. Do Christians get along with other Christians? It’s been suggested that we’re often more accommodating of non-Christians than we are of our own brothers- and sisters-in-Christ! Certainly, there have been times Christians haven’t gotten along. The East and the West divided a thousand years ago – the Greek/Eastern Church from the Latin/Western Church; the Western Church splintered into numerous pieces five hundred years ago, and these just keep on dividing, it seems. But from where I sit, that’s not the end of the story – as long as we remain true to each other, and to the Lord of the Church.
We have one clear leader, in the Church. That’s Jesus. He’s not concerned if a person is Roman Catholic or Anabaptist. He’s concerned with a person being devoted to Him. From where I sit, there’s full communion between Anglicans and Lutherans (though not everywhere, in this city it’s not just with the Lutherans that we have a national agreement with!); there’s a covenant for shared ministry and mission between the Anglicans and Roman Catholics; there is a strong unity between the member denominations of the local Ministerial Association, in the city.
With the kind of Christian unity that God is shaping up, among us, the challenge before us is how we can serve Christ’s Kingdom. We just need to put “self” aside. Here’s an oldie, but a goodie: