I was very happy to be able to go to the Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration last Sunday. I have been a part of the planning process for several months, and since it was at Trinity, I certainly wanted to welcome all of our guests. Also, it was a rare opportunity to get out, since I am still recovering from the surgery of October 30. Since I did not have to stand much, or lead in any difficult way, I thought it would be good for me, and it was.
I also hope it was good for all of the people who gathered, and I believe it was. Imagine Christians, Jews, Muslims, Unitarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Native Americans, and others all assembling in one room to give thanks in various ways to the God who has created us. Was this a worship service? No, we called it a "celebration" or a "gathering." In the light of the attacks from ISIS in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, and on the Russian plane, it seems more important than ever for people of faith to gather for mutual understanding and friendship. To say that we all worship the same way would be a very long stretch, so we chose not to raise that question. Yes, there are major differences among our various faith traditions, but there are also enough common principles that can draw us together, especially in times of crisis.
One of the best parts of the event was the food; not just because we all need to eat, but because we had the leisure to eat with one another and engage in conversation. What a wonderfully diverse community we have in our area! Getting to know one another so that we can share our joys and sorrows is the first step in bringing more peace to our troubled world.
Even as we are opening our doors and hearts to one another, there are moves in our nation to limit the welcome to Syrian refugees. This is extremely myopic. At least one of the terrorists was a French National; shall we ban all French Nationals from visiting our country? One of the suspects is a Belgian National: are all Belgians now suspect? The shooters carried guns: try banning the carrying of guns in the USA and see how far that goes. So why target refugees from Syria?
I am proud that we could host this Interfaith Gathering at Trinity, and I am proud of how we welcome refugees, including those from Syria. (Remember the Osman family.) We worship the Prince of Peace, and in His name we love our neighbors as ourselves.