The church, the fellowship of men and women, is rooted in the soil of human societies and culture, yet goes beyond these.” (Veli-Matti Karkkainen, An Introduction to Ecclesiology)

I took some time out today from writing the final two papers of my seminary career to peruse through Veli-Matti Karkkainen’s book on the Church. I read this text awhile back but its questions and concerns of the future of ecclesiology still remain fresh in my heart: will the study of the church stand at the center of systematics (I hope not, the study of God does and should stand there)? will the church survive in a post-Christian West? will the third-world theologies be the ones to educate our Western ecclesiologies, and prepare us to re-engage our culture (I hope so, I hope we learn how to listen to the nations speak about her)?

Important questions to be sure, but one of the things that has stayed with me most from Karkkainen is the above quote. What a mystery she is… a fellowship of diversity, rooted in diversity, with all the color and feeling such a diversity would create and bring. And YET, she goes beyond these diversities. Men and women, human societies and culture, and YET she is called by one name, a name above all names! Christ! To think you and I will have the privilege of exploring her for the rest of our lives, the opportunity of feasting at a very unique and diverse ‘love feast’.

The ancient church had a term that is inclusive to this diversity – catholicity. For the ancient church one of the marks of a true belief was whether or not it appeared amidst such a richly diverse community. I hope that you are as taken back by the catholicity of the church as I am. We are a people rooted in the earth, and YET awed to heaven. Wonderful, deep, mystery…

Sisters or brothers if your hearts are heavy laden with concerns of unity, with concerns of orthodoxy and heresy, I invite you to pause with me for a moment and just relish in the goodness of the mystery of our fellowship. Our lord is a very amazing lord isn’t he, one who has brought near a people so unique and different, and YET so much the same in their need of him..