Over this past year, we have discovered great joy in living and serving together as Bethany sisters from two different Christian traditions and cultures, but who share the call to live single for the Lord and the call to Christian unity.
Growing up a charismatic Christian from a Lutheran missionary background, I, Christiane, always experienced the Christian life expressed in committed community and radical discipleship. The most important reason for my choice to join the Sword of the Spirit, even though it is predominantly Catholic, was, and is still, its call to Christian unity. Most of my friends in school were atheists, and whilst they were intrigued to hear about God’s love, they were also quick to point out how the lack of love and unity between Christians made the Gospel story a lot less credible. My heart’s desire has been to be part of a more credible witness, through living ecumenical community, showing that God’s love in Christ is real and dependable.
I, Monse, grew up in a Catholic Sword of the Spirit community in Ecuador. I always knew that part of our calling in the Sword of the Spirit was to be a witness to Christian unity, but only now living in Belfast, do I feel I’m practically living out that call. The most important discovery for me has been that we are sisters and brothers in the same family, and we are finding ways to practically make that real, day to day, in the way we relate to one another, and how we show interest in one another’s traditions.
We, Chris and Monse, have experienced how discovering one another’s spirituality has strengthened us in our own. We experience love in the sometimes painful sacrifices we make for each other, and encouragement in exploring our churches’ work towards unity. In sharing about our traditions, we enrich and complement each other in our walk with Christ, because of the different ways we grew up to relate to God, to our churches and to scripture. We experience greater spiritual authority when we stand united in prayer. The pain of not being in full communion, of not always being understood, and of past hurts has drawn us into a greater zeal to love one another. Sharing life has meant re-discovering our call in the SoS to be a visible and credible witness together of the kingdom of God.
Christiane and Monse are both single women who are part of the Bethany Association of women living single for the Lord. They are living together in Belfast, Northern Ireland