Soothing division by the balm of welcome
Last Sunday’s Solemnity of All Saints had special significance in the North Woden Parish of the Transfiguration. During this time of COVID restrictions, Parish Priest Monsignor John Woods extended the hospitality of the large Holy Trinity Church to the Lutheran Woden Valley Immanuel Community for the installation of their new Pastor, Rev Tim Muller.
Rev. Tim was installed by Bishop Robert of the Lutheran Church for NSW and the ACT. In speaking to the children during the ceremony Bishop Robert, himself a former pastor of Immanuel, asked, “Who can tell me what a pastor is?” A little boy was quick to answer, “A type of food!”
The prayer of installation saw Bishop Robert and the assembled local Lutheran pastors extend their hands in prayer over Rev Tim. Afterwards, Rev Tim received symbols of his office, akin to the ceremony for the installation of a Parish Priest. At the end of the ceremony Rev Tim and his wife Mary both spoke warmly of their hopes for their new appointment.
The gathering of brothers and sisters in Christ was a powerful reminder of the communion to which all the baptised are called. Sadly, this call has been undermined by divisions within the Christian family. This was acknowledged in the Vatican and Lutheran World Federation statement of 31 October 2017 in which each begged forgiveness for joint failures and wounding of the Body of Christ over the five hundred years since the beginning of the Reformation.
The wounds of division can be soothed by the balm of welcome and hospitality. As Pope Francis reminds us, it is not about ‘them’ and ‘those’ but rather ‘us’.