Wow, two huge topics and only a few remarks here. In a discussion on the difference between these two headings this week, the conclusion was drawn that studying ecumenism tended to refer to Christian churches attempting to work together and resolve doctrinal difficulties as well as divergence of traditions in liturgy, worship, rituals, and that inter-faith dialogue is the term used more commonly for a variety of faiths looking at similar things, including but not exclusively Christian.

One Church. How to get there? So many have tried. Scripture points us towards a oneness, God’s love for all. Meanwhile, we have the freedom to diverge and to keep getting things wrong.

Charles Handy, in An Empty Raincoat (1999), seemed to suggest a way:

“It is tempting to call for better leadership, but we probably expect too much from the leaders of the nations. Those nations are too big, the connections not strong enough, the commitment to the future not long enough. It is better to look smaller, to our now-smaller organisations, to local communities and cities, to families and clusters of friends, to small networks of portfolio people with time to give to something bigger than themselves. We have to fashion our own directions in our own places.” (Charles Handy, b.1932, Irish author and philosopher on work and society. The quote is from his 1994 book The Empty Raincoat)

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road to where - too much freedom“Christian freedom as St Paul spells it out is always freedom from isolation – from the isolation of sin, separating us from God, and the isolation of competing self-interest that divides us from each other. To be free is to be free for relation; free to contribute what is given to us into the life of the neighbour, for the sake of their formation in Christ’s likeness, with the Holy Spirit carrying that gift from heart to heart and life to life. Fullness of freedom for each of us is in contributing to the sanctification of the neighbour.”

An extract from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Presidential address at Synod last week.