Happy Saturday! It’s still the middle of the night on Friday back home, but it’s a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon in Bossey. Saturday mornings are devoted to cleaning around here – most folks sleep in and spend the morning doing laundry (including having to hang dry all of our clothes, since there are no dryers here! It’s been one of the biggest adjustments for me, trivial as it might seem…), changing out sheets and towels, and tidying up around their rooms. We’re all enjoying one of the few remaining Swiss fall weekends where it’s still warm and sunny enough to open our windows and let the sunlight and fresh air in.
This was our first week of classes, and after over a week of orientation I was more than ready to get into the classroom! Yes, I’m a nerd, I know… We have a few classes that all of the students take together, and then we each get to pick 1 or 2 elective courses to take based on our particular interests. The classes I’ll be taking are:
- History of the Ecumenical Movement
- Workshop on Intercultural Biblical Studies
- Workshop on Practical Ecumenical Theology
- Ecumenical Biblical Hermeneutics
- Ecumenical Social Ethics
We also have mandatory morning prayers together as part of our academic curriculum. During the first few weeks, groups of students from each denomination plan a worship service that represents their particular tradition. So all the Orthodox students plan a typical Orthodox service, the Methodists plan a Methodist service, etc. It has been really interesting to get even just a brief glimpse into a tradition that is different from your own, and to reflect on what you like and don’t like, agree and disagree with, etc. about each denomination’s theology and style of worship.
Thinking and living ecumenically is a challenge, to be sure. I confess that I’ve already found myself thinking that certain beliefs or behaviors, whether they be theological or cultural, are inferior or too closed-minded or just plain wrong. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I’m right, but that’s not the point. The ecumenical challenge is to accept the present reality as it is and to figure out how we’re still going to live together and reflect the body of Christ together and work for justice and peace together. Is it possible? Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but Jesus sure seemed to think so….
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
We also got to do some fun traveling last weekend, visiting the nearby Abbey Bonmont for an ecumenical worship service for the whole town, and visiting Geneva – where we got to spend the afternoon at the Ecumenical Center, the headquarters of sorts for the World Council of Churches, and attend the opening worship service of the University of Geneva school year. There was also plenty of time to explore the beautiful Old Town Geneva. You can see pictures in my photo gallery! Tomorrow a church in the town next door, Celigny, has invited us to join them for worship.
And plans are in the works to go to PARIS in a couple of weekends as a bit of an early birthday trip!!!! Eek! 🙂 I’ve never been to Paris before and am so excited to have a couple of days to explore the City of Light! If you’ve been before, I’d love to hear your suggestions about the must-see things to see and do in a quick 48-hour trip.
Lots of love to everyone back home, and thanks for sharing in this journey with me! 🙂