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03.05.05 02:37 Age: 7 yrs

EKD - Bulletin

3 - 2005

Ecumenia worldwide

"Come, Holy Spirit, heal and reconcile!"

En route to the world mission conference in Athens, Pentecost 2005

The issues of the world mission conferences - organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) at regular intervals - guide the attention to the great missionary challenges of our times. This also applies to the next world mission conference, which will take place at Pentecost 2005 in the Greek capital of Athens. About 600 persons from member churches of the WCC, but also- for the first time entitled to vote - representatives of the Catholic church and evangelical and pentecostal networks, are expected. "Come, Holy Spirit, heal and reconcile!" states the motto and thus reminds us that it is not human effort that leads to healing and reconciliation of a broken world, but that the Holy Spirit is creatively at work. God inspires Christians- but also other people - to hope. The second sentence of the subject - "Called in Christ to be healing and reconciling communities" -however clearly calls for a missionary church in the midst of this world. Churches and church congregations do not exist for themselves, but they are called to be beacons in this world, places which radiate warmth and healing strength. Prayers for the stimulating strength of the Spirit, orientation to the creative work of the Holy Spirit and to the commitment in the world belong together.

How important this issue is can be seen by looking at the crisis-hit and in part dramatic situation of the world at the beginning of the 21st Century. The greatest utopias have lost their basis, we lost our belief in progress, the crises - like the HIV-pandemic but also the violent conflicts in many regions of the world - are serious and often so complex that many lost the courage to act. Some are tempted to settle in the "happy society" and to forget about the problems of this world. And yet under the surface there is a feeling of not being safe and certain: "Something strange and terrible has spread slowly across our world … Merciless like fog an uncomfortable feeling has crept up, a lack of salvation of the soul, a feeling of disappointment with science, a malaise of the spirit, a feeling of being powerless, fear, uncertainty" - thus a book that has recently been published under the title "Healing and salvation" states.

Against the background of such diffuse feeling it is good that the subject of Athens reminds one that the salvation of God that appeared in Christ and is made present in the Spirit has a very concrete, body-and-soul dimension. Particularly for the Protestant church this dimension is to be discovered again, as the Protestant belief has in fact spiritualised Christianity to a large extent but has often forgotten that the Spirit of God does not just act in a cognitive way, in the spiritual penetration and the intellectual understanding of faith, but is a very concrete power of life. Today, many people have trouble belileving not because they don't understand but because of a lack of experience. Thus the therapeutic power of the faith for their own, injured soul, for the body and the senses, but also for the life of the community and society on the whole can not be recognized to its full extent.

Of course it is not a confused theology only aimed at emotions that should be spoken of. But the aim is to perceive that the challenge for a missionary church today does not simply lie in the fact to let the appeals for mission also be followed by missionary deeds. Above all it will be about rediscovering the healing power of faith for oneself and others, to make it really noticeable and possible to be experienced.

The subject of Athens - the request for the healing and reconciling Spirit and to remember the missionary call of the church- thus becomes a serious enquiry. To be open for this will bring movement to our church and our congregations.

Revd. Dr. Klaus Schäfer, Head of "Public Relations and Studie Department" of Association of Protestant Churches and Missions (EMW)