Catholic/Lutheran Common Prayer Service:
Catholic/Lutheran prayer service
April 22, 2017
Thank you Bishop Gonia for your presence with us this afternoon.
Thank you also to the Lutheran pastors of the Casper area and the people of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church for hosting this historic gathering.
I want to begin with the words of Pope Francis, “We can feel Jesus’ heart beating with love for us and his desire for the unity of all who believe in him.”
We heard in the words of the gospel from St. John that we are all branches on the vine.
- Jesus himself is the vine.
- All Christians both Catholic and Lutheran a like are branches of that vine.
- Regardless of our differences, each and every one of us, must bear fruit if we are to be faithful Christian disciples and branches on Jesus, the vine.
Today we gather to pray for the unity of the Christian Church.
- In a sense, the pope reminded us that we cannot simply be resigned to the differences in our faith’s, but instead we must keep the hope of reconciliation among us alive.
- We have a common faith in Jesus Christ who is risen from the dead
Jesus is the foundation and the cornerstone of our faith.
- It is in him that we gather this afternoon professing one God who is Father of us all.
- In spite of our differences, we are united by one baptism.
The World of the Past
It is difficult even to imagine what the world of the 16th century must have been like.
- It was a time of great upheaval and change.
- The world was changing and so was the Christian church. Unfortunately, there were some who were unable to read the signs of the times.
- Times of transition usually are accompanied by a great upheaval.
- That was certainly the case in society as well as in the church.
- Old systems of thought and governance were slowly vanishing.
- There was a new sense of anticipation of a world yet to be.
- Secular governments seized upon the upheaval in the church and used it for political advantage.
- Obviously this did not relieve the situation but merely complicated it.
Perhaps things would have turned out differently if everyone could have paused for a moment, taken a deep breath and did nothing for a year or so.
- That was certainly not the case.
- Yes, they were abuses in the church that needed to be addressed and rectified.
- I doubt that Martin Luther ever intended to break from the church, but only hoped to reform it.
- It was Church of his youth and a church that he loved.
- Was there a better way of doing things? Absolutely yes!
- If the line had not been drawn in the sand, perhaps with prayer and dialogue things would have turned out differently and the Roman Church would not have reacted so vehemently.
We all need to ask for forgiveness.
- Faith was ridiculed, cities and churches were burned, and thousands upon thousands of people lost their lives and their homes in the name of religion.
- Families and countries were split.
- Valuable pieces of art that existed for centuries were destroyed.
- It was a time of great suffering, tragedy and violence.
- For this we need to stand before the crucified Lord and ask for his forgiveness.
- We also need to stand humbly before each other and ask forgiveness as well.
- On Easter Sunday evening, Jesus breathed the gift of his Holy Spirit. When the Spirit is present, forgiveness is always possible.
Where there is forgiveness, there is always the possibility of reconciliation.
- We can choose either to be resigned to the differences that exist in our faiths or we can work toward the hope of reconciliation.
- We cannot pretend that there are no differences and minimalize them. However, we can choose to celebrate our common faith in Christ Jesus.
- It is a faith in the power of his resurrection.
- It is a faith in the presence of his Holy Spirit.
- Jesus prayed at the Last Supper, that all be one in Him.
- His vision was and still remains that all of his disciples be one in him by the bonds of baptism and the Holy Spirit.
- We may be tempted to say that this is just not possible. But remember, with God all things are possible.
- The breath of his Holy Spirit still enlivens his church.
- Unity is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Our challenge as both Catholics and Lutherans like is to rediscover the joy of encountering Jesus.
- Every encounter with the risen Lord should fill us with a sense of joy knowing God’s profound love for each of us.
- We as Christians, have every reason in the world to be joyful.
- By his passion, death and resurrection, Jesus has set us free from slavery to sin.
- In Christ we have experienced the mercy of God. And because of Jesus, there is not only hope for us but for the whole world.
- Remember what Saint Paul says, “all creation groans inwardly in expectation of the Full revelation of God’s plan.”
- We are the privileged messengers of the joy of the gospel.
- Time and again in so many stories in both the Old and New Testaments, those who encountered the presence of God were filled with a wonderful joy.
- We too, have been touched with the presence of God in his son Christ Jesus. Let us, as well be filled with that same joy that energized the first disciples.
- Let us never forget, that with God all things are possible and in Christ all things are made new.