Thursday, March 17, 2011

Interfaith work in Washington, DC (oh yeah, Jesus drank Guinness)

Today our interfaith group did the hard work of sharing our theological stories. We were challenged with the question of “suffering,” in our traditions of Christianity and Islam.

We quickly found some questions that caused us both to struggle within our own traditions. Is suffering inevitable or necessary? Is sin inherent or inevitable? And is sin and suffering related? It was obvious that our group of Christians did not stand in a theological unification – and neither did our sisters and brothers of Islam.

We found some ideas of commonality. God has created us and God will forgive us. From God have we come, to God will we return. We have all experience both sides of life, both good and bad. We are responsible as Christians and Muslims to reach out our sisters and brothers who are suffering the bad of life.

And, of course, there are some differences in our theologies – the theology of suffering and the suffering of God caused quite a long and passionate conversation – and the Christian idea of Trinity is not coherent with the monotheism of Islam.

What came out of this very long day of conversation, dialogue and discussion was a better understanding our of sisters and brothers, Christian and Muslim.

God moved among us as we gathered to pray together at the end of the day. We heard stories of personal suffering, lifetimes of pain, and stories of prejudice. We laughed, we cried, and most importantly, we listened.

We gather again tomorrow to envision the possibility of creating safe and sacred spaces for our communities to gather locally to hear the stories of our sisters and brothers of the Abrahamic traditions.

Oh, by the way – Jesus did drink Guinness (or maybe a highly alcoholic beer). One of our participants has done excavation of holy sites in Jerusalem. Their work had uncovered Philistine beer mugs. The Philistine’s produced a wheat beer (IPA maybe). So maybe, at those weddings Jesus was turning water into wine, he might have also been sharing a pint with his mates. Slainte and blessed Saint Patrick’s Day.

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