What a delightful day we had! Seven members of the Baha’i faith from the Shuswap area joined us for worship, as well as my colleague in ministry, Michelle Rowe from Golden, her husband and mother-in-law, as well as our own congregation. They also took turns reading the prayers from other faith traditions. I began with this invitation:
Find a neighbour and have a wee conversation about: When did you first experience a denomination or religion other than the one you grew up in? What was that experience like for you?
We heard an abridged version of the entire book of Jonah this morning. This strange little story was written as a corrective to an over-zealous sense of purity and righteousness. The Jonah parable was written to help ancient Hebrews realize that God loves the people we love to hate. It is a timeless tale, for in our world we can always use the worst hearsay about “them” compared to the “facts” about the best of “us.”
An Imam, a Pastor and a Rabbi walk into a bar… and then are tempted to walk out because a table of young men across the room are not happy about their friendship and are spoiling for a fight. But, they each say a prayer of thanks for their food, in their own language and tradition, and it is the young men who get up and leave. True story.
After 9/11 happened in the U.S. three religious leaders decided that they must find ways to build peace and understanding between their religious traditions – Pastor Don Mackenzie, Rabbi Ted Falcon and Iman Jamal Rahman have been working together ever since, and I had the distinct honour of hosting them at First UC Salmon Arm several years ago. I love this quote which gives us a glimpse into the gift of our individual faith traditions, but also the danger.
“Spirituality might be seen as the water of life, but without a glass, it is far more difficult to drink. At best, the institution serves as a container. At worst, the institution believers it alone has access to the water and is unaware when the container, in fact, is empty.” (from Religion Gone Astray – what we found at the Heart of Interfaith.
We come from different traditions – each with a bit of the `water of life’ to share. Today, I want to give Frank the opportunity to tell us a little bit about the Baha’i faith, and then we will offer some peace prayers from various religious traditions. (Frank’s presentation)
Frank, a Baha’i guest who, along with his wife Susan, has been worshiping with us for the past few months shared some history and basic tenants of the Baha’i faith.
The following prayers for peace are the same ones that the leaders of the world’s religions said in Assisi, Italy, in 1986, at the invitation of Pope John Paul II. They continue to be shared in various places and we share them with each other today.
The Hindu Prayer for Peace *
“O God, lead us from the unreal to the Real. O God, lead us from darkness to light. O God, lead us from death to immortality. Shanti, Shanti, Shanti (Peace, peace, peace) unto all. O Lord God Almighty, may there be peace in celestial regions. May there be peace on earth. May the waters be appeasing. May herbs be wholesome, and may trees and plants bring peace to all. May all beneficent beings bring peace to us. May all things be a source of peace to us. And may your peace itself, bestow peace on all, and may that peace come to me also.
Jewish Prayer for Peace *
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, that we may walk the paths of the Most High. And we shall beat our swords into plowshares, And our spears into pruning hooks. Nations shall not lift up sword towards nation – Neither shall they learn war anymore. And none shall be afraid. For the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken.”
Muslim Prayer for Peace *
“In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful, Praise to the Lord of the Universe who has created us and made us into tribes and nations; that we may know each other, not that we may despise each other. If the enemy inclines toward peace, do you also incline toward peace. And trust God, for the Lord is the one that hears and knows all things.
And the servants of God, most gracious are those who walk on the Earth in humility, and when we address them, we say ‘PEACE.’”
Christian Prayer for Peace *
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred,
let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, To be understand as to understand, To be loved as to love. For it is giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life. Amen.”
Native American Prayer for Peace*
“O Great Spirit of our Ancestors, I raise my pipe to you, to your messengers the four winds, and to Mother Earth who provides for your children. Give us the wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect, and to be kind to each other so that they may grow with the peace of mind. Let us learn to share all good things that you provide for us on this earth.”
Buddhist Prayer for Peace
“May our brothers and sisters, human and non-human beings, born in every form sharing in the web of life be safe, be happy and be free. May true peace of the heart bring peace among all peoples of the world. May all beings everywhere find joy and blessings. May I and all beings awaken together. “
The Jain Prayer for Peace
“Peace and Universal Love is the essence of the Gospel preached by all the Enlightened Ones. The Lord has preached that equanimity is the Dharma. Forgive do I creatures all, and let all creatures forgive me. Unto all have I amity, and unto none enmity. Know that violence is the root cause of all miseries in the world. Violence, in fact, is the knot of bondage. ‘Do not injure any living being.’ This is the eternal, perennial, and unalterable way of spiritual life. A weapon, howsoever powerful it may be, can always be superseded by a superior one; but no weapon can, however, be superior to nonviolence and love.”
The Sikh Prayer for Peace
“God adjudges us according to our deeds, not the coat that we wear: that Truth is above everything, but higher still is truthful living. Know that we attain God when we love, and only that victory endures, in consequence of which no one is defeated.”
The Baha’i Prayer for Peace
Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be fair in your judgment, and guarded in your speech. Be a lamp to those who walk in darkness, and a home to the stranger. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light to the feet of the erring. Be a breath of life to the body of humankind, a dew to the soil of the human heart, and a fruit on the tree of humility.”
The Shinto Prayer for Peace
“Although the people living across the ocean surrounding us, I believe, are all our brothers and sisters, why are there constant troubles in this world? Why do winds and waves rise in the ocean surrounding us? I only earnestly wish, that the wind will soon puff away all the clouds which are hanging over the tops of the mountains.”
The Native African Prayer for Peace
“Almighty God, the Great Thumb we cannot evade to tie any knot; the Roaring Thunder that splits mighty trees; the all-seeing Lord up on high who sees even the footprints of an antelope on a rock mass here on Earth. You are the one who does not hesitate to respond to our call. You are the cornerstone of peace.”
The Zoroasterian Prayer for Peace
“We pray to God to eradicate all the misery in the world: that understanding triumph over ignorance, that generosity triumph over indifference, that trust triumph over contempt, and that truth triumph over falsehood.”
Our congregational member, Anne, on hearing it was World Religion Day, brought a beautiful old Jewish prayer shawl, a gift from a Jewish friend. I wore it during the Lord’s Prayer (using an English translation of the Aramaic), and passed it around the congregation so that we would each add our intentions and prayers for peace and justice for all Earth’s children.