An interview where I share my experience of fellowship with the "Brotherhood of Transfiguration", in Moscow : "This is what the church is really about: people being aware of the presence of Jesus, looking for it and understanding that in order for Him to be present, we must love each other, we must welcome each other, appreciate, recognize, and listen to each other. Unity begins with listening and hearing".
Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude for these few days that I’ve spent here in Moscow with the Transfiguration Brotherhood. It has given me great inspiration and hope as well as a wonderful experience of unity with brothers and sisters. What touched me the most was the brotherly love which I experienced from people in the Brotherhood.
And in fact, this also builds Christian unity and spiritual unity. Every lack of unity and every division comes, in the end, from lack of love – from indifference. So, if we want to rebuild Christian unity, we must build loving relationships. This is what brings healing to the Church – to the churches among themselves and to the inner life of the Church as a whole, as well, because in every church there are many tensions, oppositions, divisions, etc.
I was also deeply impressed by participating in two Eucharistic liturgies. The center of the Orthodox liturgy – just as in Protestant worship – is the presence of Jesus among us. Without this presence, there is no communion. But if we don’t love each other we cannot confess our faith in God. And before saying the Creed together we are called to love one another and give each other the kiss of peace. Our God is a God of Love.
We confess our faith in the Trinity and in this relationship of love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Despite the sadness of not being able to fully participate since our churches do not fully recognize each other’s ministries, there was a very strong experience and a great joy that came from taking part in those two Eucharistic liturgies.
Even so it was a spiritual experience of the deep presence of Christ, which continued afterwards during the two agape meals that followed each of the services. This was the first time I had taken part in such agape meals and I was surprised by their simplicity and the atmosphere of love that I found there.
This is what the church is really about: people being aware of the presence of Jesus, looking for it and understanding that in order for Him to be present, we must love each other, we must welcome each other, appreciate, recognize, and listen to each other. Unity begins with listening and hearing.
At the Transfiguration, the Father says: ‘He is my beloved Son, listen to Him’. But He also says this to each one of us: your brother, your sister who is with you – he is also a beloved son or a beloved daughter, you must listen to him or her. Spiritual unity begins with the ability to listen to each other in the light of the word of God and to make space for inner silence.
This is the essential point, much more important than all the other aspects of Christian unity, such as the unity of theology, worship, of receiving the body of Christ together in the Eucharist, or of unity in ministry. If there is no spiritual unity, it will be much more difficult any other aspect of unity.
So, the collective experience your brotherhood has is a wonderful contribution to Christian unity, and it gives me great hope. I would even say that your experience of brotherhood can shed new light on theological questions, our understanding of Scripture, Church tradition, and all the church’s various problems – the light of God, the light of Christ, provides new inspiration and new ideas.