BEAVERTON — An overflow crowd of 100 Catholics and Lutherans gathered in Holy Trinity Catholic Church’s chapel this winter for  an ecumenical worship service. They came from Holy Trinity, St. Juan Diego Catholic and  St. Andrew Lutheran.

The theme was “Reconciliation: the Love of Christ Compels Us,” with the service led by Father Virgil Funk and the Lutheran minister Rev. Gary Grafwallner.

Rev. Grafwallner spoke on the major themes of the 2016 document “From Conflict to Communion,” written by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity last October. First, baptism is the basis for unity. Second, “By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works”  Third,  the Eucharist is considered the real presence of Christ for both. Fourth, there are differences in terms of understanding of formal ministry.  

The worship service began with building a wall brick by brick.  As each brick was placed, the stone bearer and those gathered prayed, “The Love of Christ compels us; forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” The bricks were inscribed: Pride. Isolation. Abuse of Power. Division. Intolerance. Hate and Contempt. Broken Communion. Lack of Love. Prejudice and Discrimination. False Accusation.

Father Funk and others proclaimed the word. As Rev. Grarfwallner shared his sermon, he repeatedly said, “There are cracks in the wall so light can shine through.” When he concluded his sermon, the wall of bricks was dismantled.  The bricks were turned over and repositioned to form a cross.  The stone bearers became candle bearers, surrounding the cross as light filled the chapel. God's light overcomes all division.

The next joint activities with Holy Trinity and St. Andrew will be discussions to help Catholics and Lutherans better understand each other. The discussions will be held on the following Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and repreated at 7 p.m.: April 25, May 2, 9, 16 and 25. Morning sessions will be held at Holy Trinity and evening sessions at St. Andrew Lutheran.

The writer is a member of St. Juan Diego Parish in Northwest Portland.