In our world, there are many Christians of different ilk. They are all Christians, but they differ, sometimes, in significant ways. However, those Protestants who do not think that Catholics are true Christians or those Catholics who do not believe that other Christians are true Christians need to rethink their positions.
We must all get past our preconceived notions and realize that it does not matter if such people are “in” our group as long as they are orthodox believers. In other words, do they believe in Christ? Have they given themselves to Christ? Do they believe what is in the Gospels is true? And do they believe the faith as contained in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed? If they do, then does it really matter if they worship through a liturgy that is millennia old, or something put together last week?
As St. Augustine is credited with saying, “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, charity!”
So, this is my challenge to you all. Pope Benedict XVI decided that, effective Oct. 11, the Roman Catholic Church would enter the “Year of Faith.” The Pope is calling all Catholics during this special time to “rediscover the joy of believing.” I think this is a great idea and may be godly inspiration.
For Protestants, it should not matter that they broke with Rome 500 years ago or that the pope has no authority over them. The fact is that we have a fellow Christian calling for something that is quite good. And we should listen.
For us Anglicans, as Christians and fellow Catholics of the Reformed faith, we should especially take this challenge. We should try to rekindle our faith and our joy in it.
My second challenge to all of you and to me as well is to eliminate that vestige in us that would prevent us from listening to this request, and let us also enter this “Year of Faith.” Let us start by examining ourselves and being honest. Why has our joy in our faith diminished, if it has? How can we rekindle our faith? And how can we spread it?
I would suggest that a good start for us all is studying our Bibles this year, but this is not all. We should try to set aside time for God, for prayer and for just being in His grace. This is probably the hardest thing for us to do, because all of us in this area are so busy. But it is something for which we should strive.
Finally, we should also try to show our faith in what we do and how we act. This may mean eliminating our hate, our frustration and our anger, but it definitely also means doing positive acts of charity and of love.
So, this year, let us look beyond whether someone is within our faith, and let us take up Pope Benedict’s challenge to his Church as one for our own. Let us all make this next year our year of faith, too.
The Rev. Michael Penfield is pastor at St. Luke’s Chapel in the Hills, a traditional Anglican Church in Los Altos Hills. For more information, visit www.stlukeschapel.org.