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Sunday, February 19, 2017

The miracle of dialogue


Joyce Sasse, Spiritual Gleanings - Trying to understand Reuel Howe’s book “The Miracle of Dialogue” was a challenge given to seminary students in the early ‘60’s. It had to do with encouraging us, from our various Denominational pedestals, to risk talking honestly about what we believed, yet remain open to listen to what the other person was saying. The clinch line was to remind us that any changes brought about through this exchange would be because of God’s advocacy, not ours.

Since I belong to a Denomination that is an amalgamation of Churches, this talk of dialogue and the risks involved made sense.

When I was preparing for overseas Mission work by the end of the ‘60’s, the key phrase was “Partnership”. The relationship between those from the “sending church” and those in the “receiving churches” was one of Partnership. Each learned from the other as we engaged in Biblical studies, talked about each other’s cultures, and determined together what we wanted to accomplish.

I returned home much richer for the experience of those years spent in Korea.

Now the key phrase is “Reconciliation”, which takes Dialogue and Partnership to a new level. Reconciliationinvites us to look back to see what harms have been done because we imposed stereotypes on each other instead of opening ourselves to see what the other had to offer. We start by lamenting those harms so we can begin to move forward.

What a blessing that many rigid lines are softening. Churches do work together across Denominational lines. Women are able to make unique contributions in business, industry, government and the church. We are encouraged to welcome immigrants with a view to anticipating what their citizenship means. Indigenous and non-Indigenous neighbours are beginning to see themselves to be partners in nation-building.

True dialogue can bring about many miracles.

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