Associate Mhorag McDonald talks of ecumenical model of life
Life in the Manse
Associate MMM, Mhorag MacDonald, writes from Scotland
There are still cultural gaps in Scotland between people who come from different faith traditions. Perceived and real injustices linger long in the collective subconscious. Because prejudice works at gut level, it is impossible to challenge with rational argument. It is only when people see or experience a different model of relationship that they can be given the space to explore new ways of being together.
Sister Aideen O’Sullivan and I have lived in community now for almost ten years. She continues her listening ministry as a counsellor in a general medical practice and I am an ordained minister in the Church of Scotland. In this ecumenical sharing, we do not see ourselves as doing anything extraordinary, because it seems natural to support one another in the work we do. One of my church members was recently in hospital and when Aideen visited her, she said, "This is Aideen, she’s a friend from my congregation." It is wonderful when the distinctions can be blurred in such a natural way. God’s Kingdom surprises us, not when the leaders of our institutions make policy decisions, but when ordinary people forge bonds of friendship. I think Jesus had a bit to say about that!
There is much hidden hurt in the lives of people around us. It is humbling and exhausting to be allowed to hear their stories. As we each in our own way try to respond to that hurt, it makes a difference to have someone around who will listen or laugh with you, prepare a meal or walk in silence beside you.
From time to time, we have been involved in shared liturgy in our local hospital and hospice. We are sometimes asked to help with training events. At the moment we are working on a prayer course for our local area for people who are Presbyterian. We are also involved with a group of women who are Catholic and who are considering associate membership of MMM. We also try to make the Manse – a Protestant name for where the minister stays – a place of Benedictine hospitality.
Neither of us knows what the future will hold. None of what has already come about was planned, but we do have a sense of God’s guidance in our experience of lived ecumenical community. We certainly never have time to be bored!