Local News Archive
Print Issue: November 9, 1967
Worship God, Not Division, Lutheran Tells Joint Service
What we worship is not the things that divide us, but God.
This was the theme of a homily by the Rev. J. Benjamin Bedenbaugh Sunday night at a Lutheran-Catholic service at the Cathedral of Christ the King. The service was held in the 450th year after the Reformation and emphasized the unity of Christian beliefs, not the divisions.
Prof. Bedenbaugh, professor of New Testament at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary at Columbia, S.C., said in his homily that the Christian Church is an amazing fact of history.
Empires may rise against it, but the Church has weathered time. We cannot help but ask how the Church has been able to stand it all it has endured by the power of the message of the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus.
The Gospel is not held in check by sin or wickedness. It thrusts into life. The Gospel turned Pauls life around; it worked in Martin Luther; it made the world a parish for John Wesley; it worked in Jane Addams; it worked in John XXIII and caused him to write Pacem in Terris.
Prof. Bedenbaugh said the nuclear stockpile in the worlds averages 28,000 pounds of TNT for every person in the world. Lester Maddox, Rap Brown, Martin Luther King and Lurleen Wallace may not have much in common except that each has 28,000 pounds of TNT waiting for them.
The other power is the GospelGods power. It is Gods dynamite for salvation and it can make shambles of sin.
The speaker said the Gospel is for all men. From one end to the other in Holy Writ God says all. Pope John referred to every human being in his encyclical, but weve responded to Gods will with walls, nationalism and racism. Mans walls are not Gods will, but are a sign of rebellion against the maker.
Professor Bedenbaugh also referred to the division among Lutherans. Attending and taking part in the service were Pastor Howard J. Patten, Missouri Synod; Pastor Jerry L. Straszheim, American Lutheran Church; and pastor Walter E. Pond, Jr., Lutheran Church in America.
This Lutheran alphabet soup must be confusing to non-Lutherans, he commented.
He said Luther said the truth of the Lord is within people if they take up the needs of their neighbors. Salvation does not mean Christ frees me so I can save my own soul, it also means that Christ frees me so that I may give myself to neighbor.
We arent celebrating something of the 16th Century, but a cross in the first century.
Professor Bedenbaugh said his own personal joy about the service was so great that he could barely contain it. I am one of many thousands who shared our tears with you at the word of John XXIIIs death. He was the best pope the Protestants ever had.
In welcoming the large crowd to the service, Bishop Joseph L. Bernardin, pastor of the cathedral, said, May this service tonight usher in a new era in our churches and bring mutual understanding, love and unity.
Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan said at the end of the service, We thank our Lutheran pastors and friends for joining us in this service of prayer. I am particularly happy with the large assembly here. We ask that you pray for us and you can be assured that we will pray for you.
At the closing of the service, the Lutheran ministers, the two bishops and Father Matthew Kemp, priest-secretary of the Archdiocesan Religious Unity Commission, gave the crowd their joint blessings.