i just had a really amazing experience. A few days ago i preached at a charismatic catholic church in bari, italy. it was only for 10 minutes and i was not the only person behind the pulpit . . . but this experience was huge for me and i want to process it a little here in the blog. do you mind hearing me out? it would help me to have someone listen.
don't i look sharp in a white shirt???? even without my hat, which, by the way, got left behind in Dublin last week.
This is the official photo of our team with Father Matteo and Father Anthony. you will see that i am just slightly taller than Marc van der Woude . . . a well established fact that he will no doubt dispute.
Matteo proves his charasmatic credentials with a vigorous hand waving.
I was not brought up charismatic. But as a missionary, you go and preach where you are told and i ended up in quite a few unusual pentecostal situations all over Latin America, some too quirky to describe here on my blog. I used to preach against the charasmatics, back when i was young and knew everything, but meeting them in person [and preaching in their churches] broke down my stereotypes and arguments against them.
when i was really young, i was told that all catholics were going to hell - just like americans. i have since changed my mind after meeting believers from both camps (catholics and americans) without horns and without the mark of the beast on their forehead. There was a time when, in my zeal, I left gospel tracts inside Catholic hymnals and placed them under the windshield wipers of Catholic's cars while they were in Mass. I had some apologizing to do.
We were honest with Father Matteo about our fundamentalist backgrounds [except marc vdw] and he completely understood and received us graciously. What a lovely guy! As well as being the Priest at Comunita di Jesu, he is the President of the Catholic Fraternity International and a Mac user (15" powerbook). We met in his office and he told the story of the Vatican's acceptance of the charismatic movement inside the RCC, a movement that numbers around 120 million.
The church service was exactly identical to any charismatic church service anywhere - which actually is not my preference, but it was familiar territory. My only regret was that i did not know as many Hillsong choruses as they did and was not able to sing along. "Majesty" by Jack Hayford I did know. Everyone knows that one.
Dang! I am too young to have wrinkles! I am the same age as Jonny Depp and Brad Pitt. Life is not fair . . can anyone recommend a cream??? No . . . on the other hand . .. just don't talk about it. Anyway, Andreas led the people in a prayer for European countries. I sat next to Father Carlo Colonna (Society of Jesus). Lovely guy, a Jesuit Priest, who has written many theological books.
Reinhold brought an apology for his previous prejudices and anti-catholic biases, but he was speaking for all of us. Afterwards, Matteo also apologized for "mythologies" against Protestants. We embraced each other as brothers in one family.
This is a little movie of Reinhold and Mattheo hugging each other after asking forgiveness for not acting like a Christian family. I cut the sound out because there was so much noise.
At the end of the service they prayed for us and one lady came forward with a reading from the last part of Ezekiel - the gates of the city and the presence of God. It was a fantastic time for all of us. If you click on that image you will see how many people were weeping.
Our translator (also in a white shirt) was Epicscopal Priest Anthony Palmer of The Ark Community, an "An Ecumenical Christian Convergent Community within the Celtic Anglican Tradition". Tony looked after us during our stay in Italy and we had dinner a few times with his family. Tony's wife, Emily, is a goth believer so we had lots to talk about.
Despite being warmly received by the charismatic Catholics, Reinhold is still a Protestant. And our Catholic friends are still Catholic. No one is trying to proselytize anyone else. We are all learning how to follow Jesus together.
This is our version of the Popemobile. To keep Reinhold humble, we allowed him to ride in the boot of the car. And also because there were too many of us.
this experience was a huge jump for me and i am a little scared about posting the story here. i had never even been to a charasmatic catholic church before and really have not had any contact with Catholics. Its possible that i will lose a few friends over this "eccumenical" move, including some dear fundamentalist teachers from my Bible College days who will be horrified to hear this. You might be horrified also and you are welcome to leave some harsh comments below, if that will help you process it.
Or . . . like me . . you may be happy to hear that some of us are responding to Jesus prayer that we might be one, so that the world will hear.
I want the world to hear . . . so I need to be part of the solution that sees Christ body starting living together now, in preparation for the life to come. Even if that means breaking some of my own taboos.