Embracing Others’ Faiths

I came across this little post today:

Description: Orange background with lettering stating, “Embracing other faiths doesn’t make you less Christian. It makes you more Christian.”

This quote resonated with me, particularly as I am broadening my view of how people love and how God loves all of Creation.

In Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, Holy Envy, she centers the narrative around her decades-long experience as a professor offering classes on World Religions. She speaks of the richness and fullness that comes as we learn about the faiths of people in our neighborhood and those across the globe. Instead of the age-old Western fear that learning about other faiths is a threat to “our own” faith (Christianity, in this case), Brown Taylor explains how this learning has deeply strengthened her relationship with God and Jesus the Christ.

I am naturally a curious person (and a self-proclaimed advanced Google searcher), so this perspective rings true for me. Just like when I visit a new country or new nearby restaurant, my eyes are open to new experiences, views and even accents and food. When we get outside of our own bubble perspective, we taste differently, we hear new sounds and dialects, and we are invited into the lives of strangers and distant friends. What a blessing!

One moment I’ll never forget is exiting our group’s tour bus on a hill in the middle of Jerusalem at dusk, the strange and constant cries for prayer broadcasted for all to hear, particularly Muslims. The Islamic devotion that is so important that speakers are installed all over the city was a strange (for me) and, yet, beautiful moment. What if we Christians practiced prayer as fervently as our Muslim neighbors? Like this community of faith, could we stop everything, pull out our prayer mats and kneel to the One who gave us life and never-ending presence of love? That loud megaphone announcement directed at Muslims changed my view of praying to Jesus forever on that day. And I am so grateful.

https://youtu.be/0OG9NXvDA_c

Let Us Lean into the fullness of God in this big world. Reply fully to the Holy Spirit working within you, constantly revealing new ways to draw nearer to your Source of Love (God). Let’s take steps to enlarge our “God boxes,” for God is so much more than you and I can even fathom. And let us trust in this faith journey of life, one that offers us opportunities to learn, grow and become kinder, more loving people.

With all that is going on in this world, in our communities and even in our own homes, my prayer is that we can trust our God enough to see that Learning more about others’ faiths is not a threat; instead, it is an opportunity to experience holy moments in surprising ways. In these moments, I often internally say, “Wow, God, I had no idea about this _____! Thanks for showing this perspective/person/food/art piece/landscape to me. You are awesome.”

One last thing Barbara Brown Taylor mentions in her book (which is a great read, by the way!) is the importance of experiencing other faiths. She shares some meaningful, emotional and even funny times when her students went on field trips to houses of faith. Now experiencing other faiths does not mean that you must pray to a god you do not follow or do anything that feels wrong. What it does mean, however, is that we need to put ourselves into uncomfortable or “different” situations when discovering other faiths, and it might feel unsettling. (Both Jesus and Paul were very knowledgeable of the variety of beliefs in their communities and lands.) She recommends becoming a sponge, soaking in the experience and seeing what your God is revealing to you in that moment. You never know!

Prayer: God of All, thank you for opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone to step inside of your full embrace. Show me how to widen my scope of your love and of your people. May I go out of my comfort zone to see more of You in others’ faith practices. Amen.

If you’d like some ideas on how to experience other faiths, please let me know. I can post a blog (or organize a few events) to do just this.

Happy Weekend!

Laurel

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