When I was in college a few of us in Campus Ministry at the University of Saint Francis decided to start a program where we would visit churches of different denominations. We called the program “That All May Be One.” It was a lot of fun and very informative. Some congregations were welcoming and inspiring. Others were cold and rather boring.
The best part of each Sunday was gathering an ecumenical group of students of Catholic, Lutheran, non-denominational, and Methodist backgrounds, and taking the group to different congregations. Our campus priest and a few of the sisters would join us as well.
Sister Geraldine and Father Jim attended worship at First Wayne Street United Methodist Church, which was my college church, one Sunday. They were greeted warmly by my congregation. That was the first time I attend worship at a United Methodist Church with a Catholic nun.
The second time was Sunday. It was a great honor and joy to welcome my friend and prayer partner, Sister Geraldine Hartke, to the church I serve, Meridian Street United Methodist Church. She came to witness the baptism of my son, Zechariah.
It was so good to look out into the congregation and see so many familiar faces. Friends and ministry leaders from my congregation. There were many family members and friends offering their loving presence. It was perfect to look out and see Sister Geraldine. As I said often last week, “It’s fitting that my son would be baptized with a Franciscan sister present.” Sister’s prayer presence brought it all together. It was another opportunity to connect the Franciscan and Methodist roots that are continuing to intertwine deep in my spirit. I pray they will continue to take root in my ministry and my son.
Sunday was another reminder the community of faith is much larger the one church I serve or even than the denomination I am ordained in. We need other Christians. We need the prayers, support, and love of our family in Christ. Sunday was an example of this. It was a continuation of the program we started in college. The title “That All May Be One” comes directly from Jesus’ prayer in the Gospel of John, where Jesus prays that his followers may be one.
Sister and I have always looked at each other has siblings in Christ. We have prayed for each other and encouraged each other. Our lives might be grounded in two different Christian traditions, the Roman Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church, yet we have never kept those differences divide us. Instead, we have found strength in our common prayer lives and faith.
Let’s focus on that which unites us. As we read in Ephesians 4, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Let’s focus on our one Lord and his prayer “That all may be one.”