Last Sunday afternoon, after Rev. Chip Andrus and I met with our respective parish’s middle schoolers, I headed down to Rye, NY to help represent our Diocese (and this parish) in an Ecumenical Prayer Service held at Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester. This was a Prayer Service for Peace (as you might expect) but with a twist: instead of the “vanilla” approaches where we try to tone down our differences, this time, we celebrated them. We prayed and sang from our diversity as Christians, Jews and Muslims. Our traditions were Jewish (Reform and Orthodox), Islamic, Roman Catholic, Anglican and various Protestant denominations. (No Eastern Orthodox Christians, sad but not unexpected.) We prayed to Jesus and Adonai and Allah. The music came from Choirs Baptist, Mormon, Methodist, A.M.E. Zion, and Jewish.
I was one of the prayer leaders who used a text that is part of our Prayer Book tradition but found in other traditions as well. I was assigned to sit next to a Cantor with an extraordinary voice who sang / chanted a portion of her talk in the most haunting of melodies and challenging of cries. I heard an Imam quote a text in the Koran which tells a lovely story of Jesus teaching his disciples to look beyond appearances – and while the text does not appear in our holy scriptures, Jesus’ need to explain things to the group who just didn’t “get him” sounded so authentic that it may as well have been.
Our political environment screams that we are divided and always at odds with “the other.” I sat through and participated in an event that screams “NO .. we don’t have to be at odds with each other because we are different and see things differently! We can celebrate our differences and do God’s work in our world. In fact, we must do so!!!!!!!!