If the Devil is good at anything, it is at distracting us from the things that really matter.
A remarkable thing was announced today in Canterbury. The Archbishop or Canterbury, Justin Welby, announced that representatives from the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Coptic churches would be meeting in the next few years to discuss fixing one universal date for Easter. Currently Easter is a feast that moves according to the first full moon of Spring and it is usually celebrated at different times by churches in the East and in the West due to the use of different calendars. Fixing one date for Easter would heal a division that has existed in the church for over 1000 years. In fact, one of the first great divisions between Christians in England was between Roman and Celtic missionaries over the date of Easter. Now we are looking at the very real prospect that in 5-10 years the major branches of Christ’s Church will be celebrating his resurrection on the same day for the first time in many centuries.
This Is Huge.
This is a huge announcement, but unfortunately most people missed it because they were too distracted by all of the hype that has been generated around the issues of same sex marriage and whether or not the various Anglican churches, which disagree about this issue, can remain together. One astute reporter at today’s press conference asked the Archbishop to speak more about this (he was my hero for the day for doing that), but most other reporters just wanted to focus on the divisions and disagreements within the Anglican Communion.
On the one hand, we have deep disagreement between Christians about how to honor and serve the lives and relationships of Gays and Lesbians, something which has been a matter of debate for the past 30 years or so.
On the other hand, we have news of a potential agreement between the major Christian churches on settling a division that has existed for over 1000 years, and directly pertains to our proclamation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Which one of these issues should really be getting the most press and attention?
Personally (traditionalist that I am when it comes to liturgy), the idea of setting one immovable date for Easter doesn’t thrill me, but it would be a small sacrifice to make for the possibility of having all Christians come together at the same time to proclaim with one voice the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That would be a liturgical change worth making. And while the divisions in our church over the issue of same sex marriage matters to me personally, I refuse to let that one division distract me from doing what I and the church are really called to do.
The take-away from this morning’s press conference, if you ignore all the distractions that the Devil tries to throw in the way, is that there really is always hope for Christians to overcome our divisions, no matter how old they are and no matter how deep they run. The key is of course to maintain perspective and to keep our attention on that which is of supreme importance: our proclamation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
All the other drama is just a storm in a teacup.