Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A “Different Perspective” – Ecumenical Prayer Experience

This is Part 2 in a 3 Part Series on “Different Perspectives.” Hope you enjoy! Final episode soon…

Back in January, one of the priests at my parish invited me to attend a planning meeting for something called the Justice Revival. I wasn’t sure what he was asking me to go to, but I decided to step out of my Catholic comfort zone and attend the meeting at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Dallas. Over the course of the monthly meetings I attended I was so moved by the different ways people prayed and preached from their faith traditions. I was amazed at the work people were already doing in our community to help people in need. I was grateful for how a belief in Jesus could bring us together to focus on our call to reach out to others and temporarily forget those things that divide us. At first I was thrown off by the impassioned preaching and the “Amens” from the audience, but I quickly found that I was moved by the outward expression of faith in prayer.

The Justice Revival took place over 3 evenings November 10-12. While the loud music and “altar call” were still a bit out of my comfort zone for worship, I received a “different perspective” from the amazing preaching I was able to hear on the 2 nights of the revival I attended. I was graced to hear Dr. Zan Wesley Holmes, Jr. on Tuesday. His stories of many, many years of bringing together churches to work for justice in Dallas were absolutely inspirational. His ability to integrate biblical stories with his own stories with challenges to us showed me what a gift he has been given to preach. Good things have come from the churches working together in the past, and we now have an opportunity to make good things come again.

Thursday brought the Emerging Leaders Dinner and a brief presentation by Lauren Winner. I would have loved for Lauren to have been given more than the 20 minutes she was allocated. She talked about bringing together our spiritual practices and our work in the world. She has a unique ability to connect to a young adult audience in a way that made sense and also challenged us to think. Her spirituality is deeply rooted in both her education and her experience. I’m looking forward to reading some of her books.

Finally, we heard from Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners Magazine and the brain behind the idea of the Justice Revival. I was amazed at his preaching because he was able to use words and phrases that spoke to the entire variety of people in attendance. He truly knows and understands how to bring Christians together for something they all have in common. He spoke for 5 minutes at the Emerging Leaders Dinner, and I think this actually had more impact on me than his talk later on at the Revival. He challenged the young adults to “think about their vocation more than their career.” Because I was helping at the event, I actually missed most of what he said, but I found where he presented a similar topic online in a commencement address he gave in 2007. Unfortunately, in my Catholic world “vocation” is almost always all about the priesthood…or if we’re “lucky” they don’t forget about religious, married, or single people. However, I’ve been struggling in my studies to understand even this 4-tiered definition of vocation. It seems to limit our calling from God to merely a state in life. Jim Wallis offers up an explanation of vocation as “where your gifts intersect the groaning needs of the world.” This “different perspective” on vocation has given me something to work with as I try to put some theology around my own vocational experiences.

I’m thankful for the variety of “different perspectives” I was introduced to through the process of planning for the Justice Revival over the last year. My prayer life is different because I was able to pray with Christians of other traditions. My concern for the issues in Dallas, and around the world, is heightened because my eyes have been opened. I’ve been inspired by the work others are doing for these issues. My Catholic view of our call from Jesus to help those in need has truly become a catholic view of social justice.

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