Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

In awe of God’s presence

Last night I was watching a DVD which I had borrowed from a friend. The title is Common Ground and the subtitle is What Protestants and Catholics can learn from each other. Father John Ricardo of St Anastasia Roman Catholic Church and Pastor Steve Andrews of Kensington Community Church, both from Troy Michigan, (just north of Detroit), were trying to find common ground between their religions. It was really intriguing to watch, in spite of a number of things I could criticise.
It was good to hear why the Roman Catholics believe what they do believe and although I realise that there is a huge division between us in doctrine, it was good to see that there is also a lot of common ground. I remember as a student that we visited a Roman Catholic church once as a class and afterwards I mentioned to a friend that I had heard a more evangelical sermon that morning than I was used to hear in the church I normally attended as a student.
At one point Pastor Andrews was trying to verbalise what he truly appreciated in the Roman Catholic church and this took my mind back to 2005, when I had the opportunity to visit Germany for two days. Two places I really wanted to visit while I was there were the university city of Heidelberg as well as the town of Worms. Worms is the town where Martin Luther was excommunicated from the church and where the Reformation in a certain sense was born. I rented a car and three friends and myself took the road.
Standing in the cathedral in Worms was quite an experience. One of my friends with me is a pastor in a charismatic church. So this was quite something: Myself from a Reformed background and a pastor from a charismatic church and together we were standing in a Roman Catholic church – quite an ecumenical experience! As we stood there, watching people come in, lighting candles, kneeling before the crucifix, sitting or kneeling in the benches to pray (it was not a Sunday), I felt an overwhelming presence of the Lord. And at that point I mentioned to my friend that I wish that we could feel the presence of the Lord in our churches in the way that I felt it there. I sensed the holiness of God in that church as I had seldom sensed it before.
In the DVD this is also said. Pastor Andrews mentions at one point that, instead of making Jesus our friend (as He wants to be), we had made Him our buddy. Obviously Jesus came close to us and as Hebrews tells us we can now have direct contact with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but when I read the Bible and especially the book of Revelations, then I sense something of the awe that the Bible authors had for God, even though He had come so close to us. And this is something which I sometimes miss in our own churches – something which I felt I could learn from the Roman Catholic church.
Possibly we have become so used to God and what He had done (and is still doing) for us, that we seem to have lost that awe. Perhaps something needs to happen so that we can once again appreciate who God really is.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007 - Posted by | Church, Evangelism, Grace, Mission, Prayer, Theology, Worship

7 Comments »

  1. Being raised a Roman Catholic, I know exactly what you mean when it comes to the presence of G-d in the church. I do miss that a great deal. Some claim it is the Eucharist that is ever present in the sanctuary, others think it may be something else. Although I have huge doctrinal differences with the Catholic church today, I do think they do some things well and I miss them. As for awe of G-d I think they have a better handle on that than in the churches I’ve attended for many years. For instance, I never EVER saw children running amuck up and down aisles prior to the service like I see in most churches today.

    Comment by Maya | Tuesday, October 2, 2007 | Reply

  2. I think its a fine balance between “fearing” God and “fearing” God – in other words to keep the awe and reverance for God without becoming afraid of our heavenly Father who truly loves us. Sometimes I do think that churches should be more accommodating towards children within the church. As I always say: we tend to expect things from children (like sitting still for an hour) which God never made them to be. But the totally informal trend nowadays is also not the answer. I’ve found in churches in Europe that they tend to revert to a much stronger emphasis on the liturgy and in this way bringing back something of the awe for God. But this is not the final answer.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | Reply

  3. The feeling you get is the feeling of Truth. Ghandi said, “If I thought that was truly my God, I would be on my face.” It is not fear, it is reverence out of love and respect. May God bless you on your journey that he made you lead home. Seek the answers to your questions and God will lead you back. That is the final answer.

    Comment by roxanne malley | Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | Reply

  4. For the comment by Maya…Why did you leave the “O” out when spelling God? People do and say things because of not feeling worthy enough. I was wondering if that was the case.
    It was interesting when Father said it was acceptable to change churches such as leaving a Baptist church to attend a Methodist or a Four Square church, etc.. To leave your church and go to a Catholic church was a horrible thing. As if you joined a cult. It’s nice to see and hear of the commonality the Catholic church and the Protestant church have.

    Comment by Christina | Tuesday, March 31, 2009 | Reply

  5. I’m not sure whether Maya will respond, but she feels close to the Jewish experience of Christianity and therefore prefers not to spell out the Name of God. I don’t agree with that, but I respect her for it.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Tuesday, March 31, 2009 | Reply

  6. About two weeks ago, I watched a TV program titled “Common Ground” and the subtitle “What Protestants and Catholics can learn from each other”, by Father John Ricardo from St. Anastasia Roman Catholic Church, and Pastor Steve Andrews from Kensington Community Church.
    I loved the program and would like to obtain 5 DVD’s of it.
    Could you please respond to me and tell me how and where can I order or purchase them?
    I would greatly appreciate it.

    TERESA BELK

    Comment by Teresa Belk | Sunday, February 14, 2010 | Reply

  7. Hi Teresa. I borrowed the DVD from a friend of mine. But you can order it from this website: http://www.protestantcatholic.com/

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Sunday, February 14, 2010 | Reply


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