Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 30, 2006
Christian Unity and diversity celebrated
Local faithful gather for an ecumenical service beginning the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
I want to say to you this evening that I believe God is pleased," the Rev. Geri Redekop told an ecumenical crowd Jan. 22.
"I believe he is pleased because we have left those things that separate us at the door and we have come together as people of God to celebrate who he is and what he is doing in our lives."
Redekop, pastor of Braemar Baptist Church, gave the sermon at the ecumenical service that kicked off the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 22. Some 200 people took part in the lively service in which leaders of different Christian denominations read from Scripture and led the congregation in prayer.
The congregation stood when Archbishop Thomas Collins went to the podium to read Matthew 18:15-22. Bishop Lawrence Huculak of the Ukrainian Eparchy read a passage titled, Act of Repentance and Celebration of New Life in Christ.
The St. Andrew's United Church Hand Bell Choir and the Braemar Church choir provided music.
Redekop washed the feet of several Church leaders as a symbol of humility and service, saying God is calling every Christian to service.
"Our diversity is the best thing that we bring to the table," the pastor said. "The unifying thing that brings us together is not the fact that we worship all the same.
"The unifying thing I think is the fact that we worship, we know and we love Jesus Christ as our personal saviour: That's the bottom line."
During his seminary years a Catholic priest denied him and other non-Catholics the Eucharist.
"I had never cried so hard and so openly as I did that day, because for me the Eucharist is something very special; it's the testimony of God's willingness to send his Son to die in my place and have his blood shed on the cross for me."
Denied the Eucharist
"And that's significant to me and yet I had to go to the table and not receive it," he recalled.
"I tell you that story simply because there is an awful lot of (division) that still exists within our families here, within our brothers and sisters in Christ. I am not saying we should drop all the differences and let's do it all together because I think there is an awful lot of beauty inside that whole theme of diversity.
"The interesting thing is that God has called each one of us in spite of how old we are or how young we are and in spite of our denominational differences to pick up our cross and carry it to where there are people who need it," Redekop told his audience.
Redekop related the story where Jesus washed his disciples' feet.
Peter wanted him to wash not just his feet but all of him.
Jesus said, "Hold on here, you already had a bath. What I'm doing here is symbolic, I'm teaching you a better way. I'm teaching you to be a servant."
What Jesus did
Then Redekop washed the feet of at least seven Christian leaders, all members of the Unity Week planning committee.
His intention, he said, was to give the congregation a practical example of what Jesus did.
We are all called to go out into the world and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ, he said.
"That's the challenge for each one of us. It's not an easy role, but nevertheless, as Jesus said, go and do likewise."