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A Prayer for Relating with Persons of other religions...©

Updated: Feb 13

Sometimes, I find it challenging to be in relationship with others who claim the same faith, Christianity. So, I try to live by this creed: Jesus Christ helps us enter into right relationship with others. Being in right relationship helps us discover what being right looks like. An image the apostle Paul invites followers of Jesus to remember is helpful:

"There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other... "The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ."

(1 Corinthians 12:4-7,12, "New Living Translation of The Bible").

As interdependent members of the Body of Christ, we see more clearly and love more dearly when we remain open to the perceptions and spiritual gifts offered by each member of the Body. We agree on the heart and head of the body, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ; therefore, we may choose to disagree regarding other perceptions. Triune God, help us continue to embrace and not exclude the sister and/or brother with whom we disagree.

Let's face it, Christians like adherents of other religions tend to be passionate about our convictions. Sometimes we passionately disagree. Sometimes we agree to disagree with compassion, empathy, and grace acknowledging

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. These things will last forever-faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:12-13, "New Living Translation of The Bible").

So if we have so much trouble within the fellowship of believers, it doesn't surprise us too much that we tend to avoid entering into friendship with persons of other religions such as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhs, Jains, Confucianism, Yoruba religion, indigenous American religions, atheism, scientism, and so on....

Yet, unless we enter into relationship with persons of other religions, how will we be able to listen compassionately to their hopes, dreams, challenges, and goals and witness to our own?

What would it look like to enter into sacred conversation with someone who views Truth and Reality differently?

This brings us to a prayer I have written: A Prayer for Christians who desire to invite closer connections with Persons of Other Religions:

Holy triune God, grant me the courage to follow Jesus like Peter, James, and John who witnessed his transfiguration upon the mountain top, (Mark 9:2-10). May I be open to listen to Yeshua, our Father's dearly beloved Son. Expose my blind spots, tune my hearing so I may be receptive to wisdom revealed through persons who embody sacred meaning based on other religions. May I be open to perceiving and welcoming sojourners like Elijah, Moses, Muhammed, Buddha, Krishna, and other (surprising to me) exemplars you reveal as part of the journey to beloved community. Immerse us in your holy presence making whole. Expose the cataracts that tempt me to treat as lesser than others who perceive differently than me. Help me dare to follow rays of sunlight I have tended to ignore. Embrace me empowering me to embrace and not exclude the fellow pilgrims who go on this journey with me. I believe the Christ-like empathy embodied in Jesus of Nazareth will help me dare to put myself in the place of others who care deeply about what it means to be the human beings you pray we will be. I believe the compassion of Great Spirit will breathe my heart larger as I treat strangers of other religions (I confess I have tended to regard with suspicion and fear) as kin. What does it look like to receive a center birthed and embodied in the holy communion followers of Jesus call Trinity? Creator of all, enable inter-religious friendship formations to become seeds of holiness along the pathway of Beloved Communion/Community. I share this prayer in the name of the One who I believe to be the Reality that makes humanity most whole: in the being the of the Father, and the Son, Jesus, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

In a way, inter-religious relationships resemble a confetti storm. What would happen if I saw each different religious perception as part of a mosaic of prayer? Will I lose my faith? In what ways will my faith change? Will I fall more in love with the Divine or less in love with The Source of all? As my faith becomes more curious, will I become more Christlike?

The confetti prayers I breathe contain my convictions: Yes, I believe Jesus of Nazareth is fully human and fully God; the one who breathes us whole. Yes, I believe when this Good News catches the wind, the One I perceive to be Triune God will open my eyes to be open to receiving glimpses of the holy through other expressions and manifestations other religions call prayer.

In order to be open to friendship with persons across religious differences, I do not have to give up the particularities of the faith I hold dear. I may even discover there are some particularities, even peculiarities other religions reveal offering new rays of light I never noticed before. What will these rays of light expose? What will these rays of light reveal? Will they reveal new connections along bridges moving in the direction of Shalom and A Salem?

Navigating inter-religious friendship leads to the opportunity to offer Christ.

Unless we get close enough to persons of other religions, how can we include our prayerful perceptions and offerings in the confetti storm?

How will persons who have not yet heard the name of Jesus embodied in the unique ways you and I embody Christlikeness be able to join us on the pathways that follow the footsteps of Jesus, the Word made flesh?

(Why did I say pathways instead of pathway? Because like I mentioned earlier, followers of Jesus throughout the world claim different paths whether we call ourselves some version of Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant.)

Jesus, the Christ, helps us be in right relationship. Relating with persons across religious differences plants seeds of hope in a field called humanity. The more seeds of hope we plant with persons of different religions, the more likely it is we will help each other get it right when we try to define what it means to be human.

Yes, there will be challenges, but there will be more unless we try.

What happens when we become more open to having confetti parties across religious differences? Hopefully, less hate, less war, more love, more peace.

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