Sunday, February 2, 2014

WHAT: Ecumenical Week in Piliscsaba

This is the sanctuary where the Lutheran congregation
in Piliscsaba worships on Sundays.
Several congregations worshipped together last week as a community during Piliscsaba’s ecumenical week.  Three of the main churches sit less than half a mile away from each other along the rocky Pilis roads, and each holds separate services on Sundays.  However, last week we joined as a community, worshipping in different churches, sharing liturgies, and hearing from clergy of different denominations. 

In my community there is a large population of Catholics, a smaller number of Calvinists, and even a smaller number of Lutherans.  This breakdown is actually quite representative of Hungary as a country.  Over 50% of Hungarians claim Catholicism, with a heavy presence of the Roman Catholic population in the western part of the country.  Next, about one-fifth of the population of Hungary is Calvinist (also known as Reform) and their churches are easily recognized because of the star adorned on top of the steeple of their churches, rather than a cross that would often denote a Catholic place of worship.  And the Lutherans make up about three to five percent of the Hungarian population.  Though my congregation in Piliscsaba is small, it is filled with plenty of families with many children, and creates a wonderful network of friendship and support.

Last Sunday afternoon I joined in the final ecumenical service held at the Catholic church just a ten minute walk my home.  The order of worship was comprised of liturgies from each of the three denominations and different pastors served during different parts of worship.  Luckily, the liturgy was printed in the bulletin so it was easier for me to follow along and attempt to translate what was being said.  I’ve found that my reading skills in understanding Hungarian are a bit better than my listening comprehension. 

At one point during the service I noticed that I didn’t need to have my eyes glued to the bulletin because the words being recited sounded familiar.  We were saying the Creed, a statement of belief that we vocally recognize each week.  And, the incredible thing was that the entire church was reciting the Creed by heart, no matter what denomination or congregation the people claimed.  Together we stated our belief in one God, one Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sins, and the promise of eternal life.  I am ever aware that the body of Christ is a diverse being with many members and many parts, and it was refreshing to be reminded that no matter our theological differences, we all are members of the grace and peace that makes up God's kingdom.

More later.

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