Forgive me father for I have sinned. I have never been to confession and the last time I attended mass was when I was 10 for my Aunt's funeral. The fact of the matter is I'm not a Catholic, but on the first Sunday of every month when we say the creed I confess in the holy catholic and apostolic church. Now before you lose interest this is not another Lutheran-centric Pope bashing session. I actually don't have a lot against the Catholics. Like I said my Aunt was a devout follower and influenced my faith in ways I'll never be able to express. One of my favorite stories of my childhood is kneeling down to pray with my aunt at my uncle's funeral and without missing a beat, my aunt producing a second rosary for me to hold while we prayed. I can't say I knew what I was doing, but I do know the symbolism of the moment was profound for both of us.
So I have a very healthy respect for the big-C Catholic church. That being said there are very specific reasons I am a Lutheran. I believe that most of them are either political or dogmatic and pale in comparison to what we have in common, but they are differences nonetheless. The part that strikes me is the language we use. The word "catholic" very simply means "universal." It comes from a root in greek and as Wikipedia put it protestant churches use it that "believe that their churches are catholic in the sense that they are in continuity with the original universal church founded by the Apostles."
I truly believe that the universal church is far more expansive and amazing than I could possibly understand. It is in this church, the joint body of Christ, in which I believe. After watching the Tom Hanks movie Angels and Demons tonight I found myself feeling slightly nostalgic for the pomp and circumstance of traditional Christendom (as strange as that sounds for an emergent worship leader.) I remember the impact the church had on my aunt and on myself as a young person. Its because of this nostalgia that I think its of the utmost importance for us to continue in the conversation of the missional and emerging church. What I now call church may not have a confession or rosary or pope, but it is a genuine expression of the body of Christ. I believe it is unique in the Lutheran movement and hopefully it will be contagious and catch on as a new expression of Lutheranism. But more than any of this, my prayer is that the catholic church will continue to grow and thrive in the post modern world. Not my church, but the church - with a little c.
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