holding faith for each other

the women’s group that i’ve blogged about here met again for worship tonight.
i realised i’ve been nervous about this group, partly because the participants are all investing so much just by coming along… partly because we’re trying to do worship together in ways that none of us have tried before… partly because we’re all so different and i wasn’t sure that we had enough common language.

it turns out we did. it was a little awkward at times, but not often – and really just as people arrived. mostly it was comfortable, honest and inspiring.

we had planned to base our time together around one of the feast stories in the gospels, but barbara and i decided this morning that to do that at a time when it seems the world is blowing up would be simply denial… so we ditched all we’d planned, placed an image (Ben Shahn’s “Identity”), a bible story (Abraham and Sarah in the desert – a story that’s shared by all of the major faiths), and this prayer i wrote last week on the table. for a couple of hours – over a meal – we talked about how to find the faith and the energy to stay committed to peace and reconciliation. we talked about what kind of faith makes peace possible (and what doesn’t), and we promised to hold faith for each other when it no longer was possible to hold it on our own.

the thing that delighted me most was that it wasn’t me offering worship. we were creating it together. i’d wondered how that could happen with a group of people who were all at completely different stages in how they understood their place in faith [though i had to keep reminding myself to let go of control and let it unfold…].

last night i went to the first inter-faith women’s dinner. there were 400 women of Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, B’nai B’rith faiths at the dinner. It was an extraordinary night of shared respect and celebration. tomorrow i’m off to curate a multi-faith blessing of the chapel in a new prison. i was talking about this with a friend on the weekend, who was asking whether we were compromising Christianity by doing this. to be honest, it feels like i’m finding new depths to faith. God seems much more resilient than we give God credit.

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