World Council of Churches 10th Assembly: Report #2

by Roddy Mackenzie

WCC Korea 2:  Trains & Peace
Thanks for the extraordinary response to my first WCC Korea message.  My wife The Reverend Ka Hyun MacKenzie Shin and I send Christian Greetings to you all, and especially of course to Ka Hyun’s beloved Congregation, St. Stephen The Martyr Anglican Church in Metro Vancouver (Burnaby), Canada.  This second message focuses on the two trains, and the all-important issue of peace.   There’s lots that’s so good to report.
WCC Korea 2:  A Tale of Two Trains — The Berlin to Busan Peace Train
The Berlin to Busan Peace Train draws ever closer.  It is at this very moment crossing the border from China into North Korea.   The Siberian leg of the trip featured time for rest and prayerful reflection on a tour of beautiful Baikal Lake and then a Discussion Forum on Life Justice & Peace in Irkutsk.
Next came China.  Given the extraordinary explosion in the number of Christians in China, theBerlin to Busan Peace Train spent three days in Beijjing.  This gave time for the 130 aboard to better understand the Christianity of China and to address the role of Chinese Churches in the quest for peace in north east Asia.
Right now the BIG MOMENT — the Berlin to Busan Peace Train is at this very moment crossing the border from China into North Korea.  It will arrive October 25, 2013 in the North’s capital city Pyongyang for an overnight visit.  This is regarded as the most meaningful stop in the entire trip from Berlin to Busan, given the worldwide importance of the quest for peace on the Korean Peninsula.   There will be a Common Prayer for Peace and Unification of the Korean Peninsula together with the Korean Christian Federation at Bongsu Church.   Thereafter, the crossing of the border from North Korea into South Korea will, in the words of the Berlin to Busan Peace Train communique, “express the joy of both nations“.   May it be so, and may those in the north be touched by the healing powers of the Holy Spirit who remains so hard at work on this corner of our planet.
WCC Korea 2:  A Tale of Two Trains — the Metaphor Train
The Six Stations of the Metaphor Train are intended for Christian Congregations to participate in this worldwide Christian Pilgrimage to Busan for the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches.  I named these Six Stations in my earlier message — now follows some details of each.  It is a distillation of my own thoughts couple with random borrowings of bits and pieces of the WCC’s Leader’s Guide to the Pilgramage to Busan from which it’s taken me hours to distill what now follows.  Hope you find the results meaningful.
Metatphor Train Station One:  Christian Unity
Jesus commanded His followers to “be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  Today Christ’s Good News has found its way to every continent and island.   The purpose of Station One is to discover at the local level a deeper and more expansive sense of what it means to be part of the Global Church.  Nowadays theEcumenical Vision is that of restoring Christian Unity through dialogue and closer corroborations.  Local congregations will hopefully better appreciate the spiritual impulses and current emphases of the ecumenical movement and thereby accompany the Global Church’s journey to Busan through transforming faith empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the KEY:  Transformational Change through the Holy Spirit is realized best in community, not just with those like us, but more significantly through those who seem most unlike us.   The diverse people present at the first Pentecost “were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another:  “What does this mean?”  Acts 2:12.
Since its formation in 1948 the WCC has faced the challenge of evolving Christianity into a community of churches on the way to visible unity in one faith and one Eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and in common life in Christ.  The WCC seeks to advance towards this unity, as Jesus prayed for His followers, “so that the world may believe” (John 17:21).
After decades of work, a significant convergence, as expressed in “The Church:  Toward a Common Vision” will be considered by the 10th Assembly of the WCC.  To help make this happen, we are reminded of the following to get beyond obstacles to Christian Unity:
—  It is hard to move beyond ways of believing in Christ and our Church that reflect our ethnic or cultural heritage.
—  Christian Unity is spiritually based but needs to be expressed in visible ways.
— Unity is not uniformity but instead appreciates diversity in historical, social, and cultural realities, and different theologies and practices.
—  Being part of the Church as the Body of Christ with many members (1 Cor 12:12 necessarily involved being with those who are different from “us”.
—  Through our differences we can start to see how differing perspectives and emphases can contribute to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church which hopefully every Christian will eventually seek and for which in our universal Christian Creeds we all pray.
Most important of all, unity is not for its own sake, but for the sake of God’s mission to bring salvation, healing and renewal to the world, as will be explored in the next Five Stations of this Metaphor Train.
Metaphor Train Station Two:  Called to Witness
The WCC believes mission and evangelism are at the heart of what the Church is about.   The theologian Emil Brunner wrote that the Church exists by mission just as fire exists by burning.  No mission means no Church.
Mission begins in the heart of Christianity’s Triune God — the love which binds together the Holy Trinity [Father, Son and Holy Spirit] overflows to all humanity and creation.   Our missionary God who sent His Son to the world calls all people (John 20:21), and empowers us with a community of hope.   God’s mission is not only redemptive, but restorative and transformational.  That’s why Jesus said “You are the salt of the earth, the light and leaven of the world”, and called on us to ferment change, witnessing to the transforming power of God through our lives and actions (Matthew 5:13 & 14, 33).
BIG NEWS:  The majority of Christians a century ago were from Europe and North America but today they’re instead from the Global Sourth and East.   Regretfully Christian Mission from Europe and North America too often linked with colonization and empire, failing to recognize and draw on the wisdom of local people.  It led to exploitation and destruction of people and the earth, and the further marginalization and exclusion of the very people Jesus identified with most — the marginalized and excluded of society.  Today’s Christian Mission powered by the Global South and East instead acknowledges thee rights of self-determination of Indigenous peoples, freedom of cultural expression and restitution for losses endured through the sins of imperialism.
MORE BIG NEWS:  Evangelism is NOT Proselytism.  Evangelism is a confident but humble sharing of our faith and convictions.   Bringing about conversion and new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Proselytism is using various means to force others to adopt our beliefs, the very opposite of what Christ did.
Metaphor Train Station Three:  Living With People of Other Faiths
Jesus said there are many who will come from east and west and sit down to eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 8:11).   Sadly attempts in the past to proselytize those of different faith, along with colonialism, often today leads to suspicion that Christians all have ulterior motives for helping people.  While we cannot avoid difficult challenges to co-existence with those of other faiths, we must live together on the basis of what we share in common.  Natural disastors such as tsunamis have not only destroyed lives and property, they have also destroyed walls separating other faiths through all of us working as one to help the victims.  This has been expecially true of Christian – Muslim cooperation, which has led to encouraging interfaith dialogue.  While natural disasters rage violently, people seeking shelter do not stop to ask about one another’s religion.  So God can bring good out of even the worst that happens.
The WCC believes our Christian faith sets us free to be open to faiths of others, to risk, to trust and to be vulnerable.  Dialogue is a style of lviing in relationship with our neighbours.  Recent Buddhist-Christian dialogue focussed on structural greed in today’s global economy.   Buddhists see greed as one of the Three Poisons — the other two being hatred and delusion.   Christians see structures of domination and greed as arising from sin.  The end result of both religions is the same — global greed must end.  And so it goes.
MUST STOP
Sadly I must stop.  I’ve run out of time.  No time to check for typos.  Please forgive them.  God be with you!
Yours faithfully, Roddy

About St Stephen the Martyr Anglican

St. Stephen the Martyr is an intercultural congregation, with members representing several ethnic groups, races and cultures. The congregation gathers for worship at 10 am on Sundays and church festivals, to celebrate Holy Eucharist and engage in Christian formation.
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