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President's reflection

 
  (pictured) The Ukrainian Catholic Church, Lidcombe NSW.   

During this past week the Annual General Meeting of Act for Peace was held. It is an unusual meeting in that the only member of the company is the NCCA and so as President I represented the NCCA and was the only attender! 

The coming into being of the NCCA’s international humanitarian agency decades ago (now called Act for Peace), was a reflection of the founding energy of the Ecumenical movement. They saw two particular priorities, among many. One was to invest in ways that build unity among churches and the other was called ‘diakonia’. 

The World Council of Churches website describes it as follows: 

'Diakonia is the care that Christians offer to their fellow humanity, modelled on Christ’s compassion, example and teachings. Such service can be described as “the liturgy after the liturgy.” '

The description of this work of compassion and care as the ‘liturgy after the liturgy’ is beautiful. 

In the various liturgical traditions of our churches we gather in worship and celebrate the goodness, grace and love of God shown to us in the life of Jesus Christ. We are nurtured and held in our gatherings. The writer of the book of Hebrews describes this regular gathering as a means of encouraging and supporting each other and infers that it is a good habit. 

The ‘liturgy after the liturgy’ is not limited to the consecrated space set aside for worship, rather is has its place in the world and its realities. Our worship in this space is to be the living presence of the ‘compassion, example and teaching of Christ’. The focus of this liturgy of service is one of the many places where God’s love is also manifest and often not appreciated. 

One liturgy is offered to God in the space we set aside with combinations of hymns, prayers, celebration, quiet, sacraments, scripture and words. The other liturgy is offered with several of these elements and also with action, care and compassion and also in a space where God is and can be known. 

Rev John Gilmore

NCCA President 

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