Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Building Bridges

Former seminary president Donald E Messer tells a "true story emerging from World War II" which he offers as a "parable for our mission and ministry."

Russian soldiers at the Rzhev front, working at night in freezing waters, built a secret bridge under the river's surface. When darkness covered the moon and snow shrouded the river, strong Russian swimmers silently worked chest-deep in the freezing waters. Their bodies were bloodied by the ice floes.

Then one morning, to the utter shock of the Nazis, Russian tanks, whitened for winter war, came charging down the bank, crashed through the thin ice, and stormed across the river on the hidden bridge built beneath the water. Sqaudron after squadron roared across toward the stupefied Nazis, opening the Rzhev offensive.

Messer suggests that ministry in the twenty-first century needs to "construct bridges, not in order to assault others, but to create needed spans of understanding and communication. Perhaps we could even paraphrase Simon and Garfunkel and sing 'Bridge Under Troubled Waters'! -- Postmodern Pilgrims p 78

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