Monday, November 24, 2008

An Interfaith Thanksgiving

The story of Thanksgiving -- the one we usually tell -- speaks of the Pilgrims, themselves religious outsiders -- sharing a meal with Native Americans. According to the story, the Indigenous people helped rescue the Pilgrims from famine and they joined together in a feast of thanksgiving. I expect that at this meal there was a bit of interfaith conversation!

Last night I participated in a a Thanksgiving Celebration that was sponsored by the Troy Interfaith Group. Our host was the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit. The participants in the program ranged from our Muslim hosts to Hindus. There was a sizable representation of members from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community -- rivals of traditional Islam. There were Methodists, Presbyterians, and Disciples on the Program. We shared in a Jewish prayer of Thanksgiving. Youth were primary presenters. There was a young man from the IAGD who gave a wonderful talk about Mohammed Yunis of Bangladesh. And three young people read prize winning essays about their heroes. And a group of young Hindus shared with us their prayer. Because the hosts were Muslims our songs were a capella.

There was a nice crowd, but more can be done. Thanksgiving is the one holiday that really provides an opportunity for people to come together across religious lines and share their words of Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to see this effort expand, to include more and more people and groups. We needn't agree on "theology" to show mutual respect and a willingness to learn. Ultimately, we're part of the human community and we're all in this together.

The prayer I chose was such that I that all could share in, so invited the congregation to pray it with me. Maybe you could share it yourself.

We give you thanks, most gracious God,
For the beauty of earth and sky and sea;
For the richness of mountains, plains, and rivers;
For the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers.

We praise you for these good gifts,
And pray that we may safeguard them for posterity.

Grant that we may continue to grow
In our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation,
To the honor and glory of your name, now and forever. Amen.
(from Chalice Worship, Chalice Press, p. 296).

1 comment:

Interfaith Wedding Rabbis and Ministers 4U said...

happy thanksgiving to all of you. god bless.