Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Alive: the reflection paper part IV

The people of God were also alive and well right in our bus. Our group was an intense one—we had intense conversations, intense learning, and intense fun. As we learned about one another and our respective traditions, I could sometimes feel the ecumenical relations improving. We worked together to translate Greek inscriptions on mosaics, to remember the Hebrew we learned and turn it into something approximating modern Hebrew, to do water ballet in the Dead Sea, to climb thousands of stairs—and to get down again! I struggled quite a bit with my sense of call to Scotland—where I was supposed to go in September—and my colleagues helped me think through that and make a decision consistent with what I felt led to do. Friendships developed that could truly last—once people have traveled together they really know what their friends are like! We truly developed a Christian community: we ate together, worshipped together, worked together, traveled together, lived together, had fun together, were serious together, prayed together. We helped each other along in the hard places, shared our resources, and pined after pizza. And as we traveled these places, met people, and shared experiences we processed our thoughts and our vision, and carefully thought through some things (and the theology) we thought we knew, and many of us learned to discuss or even defend our position without getting defensive—a crucial skill for the church. Each person contributed something incredibly valuable to the whole experience for me—whether in knowledge, excitement, or personability. I spent much time wondering what I would contribute to the group, but I have realized now that it may not be the same for each person. What others contributed to my experience may not be what they contributed to my roommate’s experience, even. As a group, however, I think we learned how to be the church—the community of God’s people who live together in spite of their differences, loving one another as Christ loved us.

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