‘Tis the week for ecumenical potluck


The annual celebration known as Christian Unity Week is underway in churches, towns and cities around the nation and the world.

Over the next few days,  countless prayer meetings, services, worship and fellowship events will unfold as Christians come together in the sanctuary and around the table to “get to know each other, to pray,  and reflect together,” as Pope Benedict so aptly put it in his pre-prayer address to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.

The main sponsors of this Week of Prayer are the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches which brings together 349 denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories around the world.

An article plucked from www.christianpost.com notes that the initiative officially began in 1964 during the Second Vatican Council with a call for “prayer on the soul of the ecumenical movement” and quickly spread through all Chrstian denominations and faith bodies, many of which celebrate it each year between Jan. 18 and Jan. 25 in this hemisphere and at Pentecost in the southern hemisphere.

In his Sunday address, Pope Benedict explained that the theme this year – “You are witnesses of these things” – comes from Luke’s Gospel and echoes “the words of the risen Jesus sto the apostles: ‘You are witnesses of these things.'”

The pope went on to “invite parishes, religious communities, ecclesial movements and associations to pray unceasingly, in a special way during Eucharistic Celebrations, for the complete unity of Christians.”

While we may have miles to go before that long sought for goal arrives, we often have the opportunity to pray together and break bread together in an ecumenical setting.

Some of my favorite memories spring from ecumenical pot luck dinners and lunches where we all got the chance to fellowship with each other while sampling each other’s culinary treasures.

Beginning today, Keeping the Feast will feature some of those time honored dishes for your consideration. We’re starting off with a variation of a luscious ham salad first encountered at St. Mary By The Sea Episcopal Church, Point Pleasant Beach during an ecumenical luncheon there.

The  ham salad was the key element in some elegant tea sandwiches and it hit just the right note, served up with hot tea. Many people like to serve it appetizer fashion on assorted crackers.

Ham Salad ala Anglaise

Ingredients: 3 cups ground, fully cooked ham;  2 tablespoons finely chopped celery; 2 teaspoons finely chopped sweet onion; 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish; 3/4 cup mayonnaise; 1 tablespoon mustard; assorted crackers.

Directions: In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. In another bowl, combine the mayonnaise and mustard, fold into the ham mixture and mix well. Serve with the crackers.

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