I will start by saying that I am not a theologian. I did not attend a seminary, nor do I possess the knowledge to debate on a serious level about much concerning theology. This is just a story. A real story of unity. Unity that covers the wide open space of Christian orthodoxy. This will be raw, but beautiful.
I am a fireman. This is what I know. I spend a 1/3 of my life with guys…tough guys…”macho” guys. This is a hard market to sell a half-assed watered down faith. As fireman we are taught to read through the BS and find the raw truth. There are two things you are very careful about talking about in a firehouse. #1 is politics, and #2 is religion. If you aren’t careful you will get labeled for the rest of your career over just a 10 minute debate. I tend to overlook this…and find myself in many discussions covering various things. One night on the back porch of the firehouse something beautiful happened…
I had just brewed a fresh pot of coffee. Myself and another fireman, who happened to be Catholic, both poured a cup and made our way out to the back porch. The sun was just setting down and a cool Texas breeze was whistling through the covered porch. I had just finished up a class at church over ecumenism and the creeds. We read two books, The Creed by Luke Timothy Johnson, and Your Church is To Small by John Armstrong. I was excited at the bond I recently discovered I had with Catholics. The fireman sitting next to me has a beautiful story. He came from an agnostic/atheistic background to a committed Catholic.
The conversation began by me asking questions about catholicism. We discussed everything from sacraments and communion to fish fry’s, beer, and the Pope! We were just two guys discussing our journeys of faith.
I will confess that immediately after graduating high school I did attend one semester of seminary. I quickly realized that I was allergic to this atmosphere and moved on. What began from my experience at this seminary was a journey of unity. It was frustrating and disappointing to me that there seemed to be so much division in the Church. Was God’s love big enough for all of this? I came to find out through the years of this ecumenical journey that if I look for commonalities rather than differences in people the more room I left for unity.
Back to the porch…
Over the course of this 2 hour discussion I realized that I had a lot in common with Catholics. God, Jesus, taking communion (though different perspectives), ancient practices, and love were all common ideals that we both held very close to our hearts. Why was I raised to think that Catholics had it wrong and in some instances were not Christian? Had God’s love been so watered down that this guy sitting next to me could not partake? As firemen, we both called the BS flag. Of course God’s love was wide. We laughed and enjoyed God’s love together that night.
And just as the sun had made its way across the finish line of the horizon, something incredible happened…we recited the Apostle’s Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
There have not been many memories in my life that I will hold as dear as this one. We were just two guys on our journey of faith, throwing aside the vast differences, but holding onto the truths of our faith, together…In unity.