I used to work as a civilian for the Department of Army. We had yearly training in diversity. What I learned from it is that we all have strenghts and weaknesses. If we understand these, we can work more efficiently together.
When I try to apply this to the Church, I first think of many different cultures and different ways of celebrating special occasions. We are just ending the Christmas season, so it comes to mind as an example. Some cultures celebrate St. Nicholas Day as a day for children to celebrate, others celebrate 3 Kings Day and say that the three kings bring presents to the children as they did to the Christ child. Some say the Christ Child Himself brings presents to the children. In our country, we usually celebrate St. Nicholas and the Christ Child together. St. Nicholas gave gifts to people while he lived. God gave us the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.
By studying the diverse practices, we can see what is constant, love and gift giving, the birth of Christ, the gift of the Father. I’m sure someone can find more constants… We can also learn from the differences. The ones I mentioned above each emphasize part of the story of the nativity.
When studying diversity in different religions, we can gain from the same sort of comparison. Many faiths share our central beliefs. We can easily accept what agrees with our beliefs. By understanding the points upon which they believe differently, we can begin to understand what led them to their beliefs. Besides helping us as a religion to move closer to being ecumenical (by recognizing the similarities), the differences show us the problematic areas and are the beginning of finding a road to agreement among us.