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Is but One God
2003 Pastor's Column)
and I are all children of one faith, the diverse paths of religion are
fingers of the hand of one Supreme Being, a hand extending to all, offering
completeness of spirit to all, and eager to receive all."
who was inspired both by his Lebanese Christian upbringing and the Sufi
Muslim tradition, wrote these words for his Arabic and American readers.
He also wrote, "we are one in Spirit and if we would but listen
to the voice of our soul God would reveal this truth".
came to mind as I sat in the St. Paul Armenian Church in Fresno on September
11th for the "Interfaith service of consolation, compassion, and
world peace". The bulletin listed about 30 participating religious
leaders, numerous musicians, vocalists, hymns, and even a Taize Chant.
that day was a cross section of God's people reflecting various cultures
and beliefs. We were Hindu, Hebrew, Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Sikh,
Baha'i, Native American, Religious Science, Unitarian, Latter Day Saint,
and Brahma Kumaris. The theme for the service was "Let all we do
this evening be done in a spirit of peace and unity".
We had been invited
to come to this service to sanctify the day, and bear witness to our
common humanity. Readings from the world scriptures revealed another
shared truth: that we are all equal in the eyes of God. By the end of
the service for "those that had eyes to see and ears to hear,"
it was apparent that God has revealed the same message of love to all
people each in their own language and their own culture. It is only
in keeping the commandment to love God and to love our neighbor that
we will find peace.
Nothing said that
evening resonated stronger with the Spirit of Truth than a pledge given
by Rabbi Josef Germaine. At the end of his message he turned to the
Arab religious leaders and pledged to show love and concern for those
Palestinians that some would have him believe were his enemies. Turning
to the congregation he challenged us to prayerfully search our own hearts
and where we find hatred to turn that hatred into love.
For those who would
follow in the footsteps of Jesus the love of God and neighbor is far
more important than religious orthodoxy. Jesus and the early Christians
shared in the Jewish attitude that ideas about God were essentially
a private matter. Jesus was led by the Spirit to live by an alternative
wisdom not centered in traditions or in institutions. He taught his
followers to pray directly to God without mediation. He condemned as
"man made laws" those traditions that would separate us as
clean or unclean, worthy or unworthy. Answering the concerns of his
apostles He insisted that all who are not against them were for them,
and the powers of God were not meant for him alone.
--By Ed Brennan,
Visalia Friends Meeting