We recently welcomed a local Muslim fellowship group at St Chrysostoms for a wonderful friendly evening of sharing and exploring where our paths come close in encountering Jesus (Isa) and Mary (Maryam) through our Scriptures and faith. Rosie, parish assistant, writes:
Jesus promises, “Whenever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with you.”
The idea came during Advent, when two of the group came into church enquiring about using the church as a venue for an event for one of their festivals (the answer was yes, and that was a great success). This first conversation, led to talking about the Christmas Story, how there are some overlaps in our respective scriptures, and also about our Posada venture – gathering and sharing faith and friendship. So we thought it would be great to arrange something similar: an evening to share the Islamic and Christian accounts of the birth narratives of Jesus – and so we did.
We had short presentations, each telling the story of the birth of Jesus based on the Quran and Bible, with extracts from both, and we also touched on the practice of reverence to the names of holy people, and aspects of the religious life. Then of course there was plenty of conversation and questions with tea, coffee and cake. It was a truly inspiring evening, and a fantastic way to connect with our Muslim brothers and sisters in the local community. It was a real chance to learn about each other’s faiths, and find some new perspectives. I also found it an incredibly valuable experience in exploring my own faith from a different angle, and seeing where the bits of the “jigsaw puzzle” of the Abrahamic scriptures and beliefs fit together and cross over.
Finally, and most importantly of all, I feel that through this encounter (and hopefully more to come) we have begun to forge a strong friendship: one of welcome, discussion, respect, and understanding.
So very appropriately at the time of Candlemas, it seems that Jesus – as a light to all nations and peoples – has brought our communities together.