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Interfaith Ingloriousness or how to bring an ecumenical prayer service to a screeching halt

I live in a small town.  Not an-everybody-knows-your-name small, but small enough that I know the pharmacist by her first name, I sing in the church choir with one of the loan officers at the local bank, my kids have all had the same 5th grade history teacher.  Small.

Small so that, every year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the local churches get together for an evening of mutual praise and worship.  It's mostly music - those congregated sing a few hymns together, and each of the participating churches has their choir or vocal ensemble perform.  One of the churches has a handbell choir that does a few hymns.  The local ministers each offer a Scripture reading or prayer;  it's lovely and ecumenical and a worthy endeavor.  We hold it at our church since we have this lovely pipe organ that sounds wonderful with the choirs.

However, last night's service was marred for me.  The two Lutheran churches in our area performed a piece together called "Faith Alone/Sola Fide".  Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with the inner-workings of Christian theology:  them's fightin' words.  That is, this is a BIG theological sticking point between Catholics and some Protestant denominations.  Volumes have been written about it.  Theologians argue over it.  Luther left the Church and started his own denomination because of it. 

It is tantamount to asking the Muslim neighbors over for dinner, and serving pork.  Or joining the local Jewish congregation for a meal and asking the blessing in the name of Christ.  That choice of hymn was either a huge, ignorant blunder on someone's part, or the person who chose the piece was simply being rude.  I'd prefer to think it was the former....

Well, I'm not sure what can be done, if anything.  Maybe next year our choir will just have to sing the "Ave Maria" and get all up in their face with our Catholicism.  But that really isn't the point of the service, and that's why it was all a little sad to me.  Those Lutherans missed the point....



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