Tag Archives: celebration

holding hands in interfaith peace

Beauty in Interfaith Peace

Beauty in Interfaith Peace:

Wedding Feast of the World

We can find interfaith peace as brothers and sisters of all religious paths, even in the haunted memory of extremist religious terror.

During his U.S. visit, Pope Francis participated in an interfaith ceremony at Ground Zero. The prayers and songs of all the faiths were beautiful and haunting. They revealed and respected the healing love of the Holy Spirit amidst human tragedy. This ceremony was true worship, worthy of the holiest throne in heaven. It touched the heart of God.

Interfaith peace teaches us about the many faces of God. There are infinite ways of knowing and experiencing divinity.

Jesus showed us the path of love. He spoke often of the Father’s heart, taking care of the poor and least of the world. Love is the kingdom of heaven on earth.

Buddha showed us how to know God through meditation. To deny the ego is to know Love.

Judaism teaches us how to respect and approach the Holy.

Hinduism contemplates our personal battles with light and darkness. The world, and cosmic, battles of good and evil begin with me and you.

Each religion, each culture, and each person’s individual spiritual paths are unique and valuable. We all have things to teach each other.

In Matthew 22, Jesus tells about a wedding feast. This feast of the ages, heaven’s biggest party, includes invitees of every nation and tongue. I grew up in Evangelical Christianity. I learned that “every nation and tongue” meant we must go to all the nations and turn everyone else into Protestant Christians. (Yes, in this tradition, even Catholics are condemned to hell.)

But God has spoken to me many times and challenged me to look beyond this narrow viewpoint. The good news of Jesus is the kingdom of God, hope for the hopeless, love for the lonely. There are no tears at the wedding feast. The guests at the feast are devout followers of God from every religion.

Look at this passage:

Revelation 7:9, 15-17 NIV

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.  ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’  nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’  ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ ”

This multitude before the throne includes every person who searched for God with his/her full heart. People of every religion who have embraced the palm branch of interfaith peace. People who took up their cross to find the Lamb. No matter their nation or cultural religious path, these people endured the cross of hunger, thirst, homelessness, and persecution of all forms. Through their tears and their love, they find the Shepherd. They drink deeply the living water.

The feast of heaven is the ultimate interfaith celebration.

There is no place at this feast for religious hatred. A religious egoist cannot put on the wedding garments of humility. An extremist cannot hold the holy palm branch. My own sister claims to be an “extremist” for Jesus. Where is the love? Jesus doesn’t want Christian (or Muslim or Hindu) extremists. He wants humble, merciful lovers and peacemakers.

Jesus told us:

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are the merciful,for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:5, 7-7, 9 NIV

Jesus told us that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the children. Children innately know peace and mercy. Pope Francis’ earthly interfaith ceremony ended with children singing. These children sang while holding hands. Beautiful hands of every color.

So it will be in heaven’s feast. We will all hold hands of every color. Hands of every faith. Hands of love.

Beautiful hands of interfaith peace.

Shalom.

4th of July Working Poor

4th of July 2015

On this 4th of July holiday, I am deep in thought about being American. The holiday celebrates the “greatness” of the United States, the land of the free and home of the brave.

But I am troubled about what I teach my son. Is there a place for him, for us? Will our mixed-race family be accepted among the sea of white families wearing red, white, and blue, waving the stars and stripes, driving nice cars to nice picnics and nice fireworks shows? Is this nice? Is this the picture of greatness?

The Working Poor on the 4th of July

My husband just started a new job. He desperately needs this work after a long period of unemployment. But his boss called and unexpectedly required him to work a shift from 8:00 pm to 3:00 am for the 4th of July. The job was over the river and Oregon state line in Vancouver, Washington. It is very difficult to take the bus there during peak times, and there are simply no buses that run there in the middle of the night. When he told his boss this fact, she accused him of lying. She has never taken a bus, but she says she “knows” that they run all the time.

So now we must choose between paying for an $80 taxi ride, jeopardizing our rent this month, or refusing the assignment and jeopardizing his new job. (He will also be basically working for free because he won’t make much more than $80 on the shift).

Of course we choose to pay for his job, because we do not want to struggle again with unemployment, and the job is good in the long run. But it is so sad that in the land of the free, we, and so many others, must worry constantly about rent.

Oh, the irony. This scenario must be happening to millions of low wage workers around the country on this holiday celebrating the independence of this “great” nation. My husband will be working an event that costs hundreds of dollars to attend. He must give up his few dollars and his own holiday to make sure the rich people have a nice time on their holiday.

I guess in the land of the brave, the low wage workers are the bravest people, sacrificing their own holiday, and their own money, so that others can have a nice holiday.

Teaching my son about the 4th of July and bombs bursting in air

While my husband is at work, I need to decide how, or if, I will celebrate with my son. He is five and beginning to understand social studies, fairness, and a world far beyond his family and friends. Right now he is interested in the civil rights movement. At the library he checked out kids books about sit-ins and Martin Luther King, as well as books about peace.

What do I teach him about celebrating a nation that still judges people on the color of their skin and the content of their bank account? How do I explain to him the meaning of peace in a holiday glorifying “bombs bursting in air,” in a country that has been in almost continuous war since its founding?

WWJD?

What would Jesus do?

Jesus never celebrated Roman holidays although he lived in a Roman land. Jesus celebrated God’s miracles on the Jewish holidays. Jesus never talked about celebrating countries and earthly independence. Jesus preached often about God’s heavenly kingdom and the importance of  human interdependence.

Jesus celebrated Peace. Love. Caring for one another. The poorest on earth are the richest in heaven.

The brave path of Jesus means sacrificing greed and power to welcome God’s kingdom on earth. If the United States will embrace peace and compassion, rather than bombs and power, we will truly be a great nation.

A 4th of July Prayer

On this 4th of July, I bless the least of these. I pray for all the low wage workers forced to choose between their families and their jobs.

I pray for a nation that engages in peace and love, rather than racial and class warfare. I pray for a nation that practices greatness by leading in compassion and world peace. I pray for a nation where someday everyone will be free of fear of homelessness and hunger.

I pray for a nation that will someday follow the brave path of Jesus, sacrificing greed and power to welcome God’s kingdom on earth.

Father, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen

Be blessed, American friends, on this 4th of July.

 

Looking Forward to 2015: New Year Prophecy

Today is New Year’s Eve, always one of my favorite days of the year. I celebrate the fresh start and new adventures ahead of me. I am looking forward to 2015. I am looking forward to a year of growth and prosperity of my soul in my relationship with God.

I Am Looking Forward to Moving in 2015

I am looking forward to moving to Rhode Island soon. There I can start  a new chapter in my life, a chapter of destiny beyond a daily struggle to survive. I am looking forward to writing by the ocean, hearing the lullaby of the waves, tasting the salty air, and looking at the lighthouses in the fog, a picture of the storm through which Jesus has led us.

I am looking forward to 2015 and moving to the home that the Father has long promised us.

I Am Looking Forward to Growth in 2015

Kylan, our son, will be turning five in January, right after the New Year. This is a big year of growth for him because he will start kindergarten and his formal schooling. He is so excited about this.

I prophetically see his schooling as a beginning and an end for our family. Ever since Kylan’s birth, when I had to beg the electric company not to shut the utilities off on a newborn in the middle of winter, and when I had to leave the birthing center, still sore and bleeding, to ask for rental assistance, we have experienced a journey all over the country, seeing all kinds of human evil.

For five years, people have shown us lack of compassion and even downright plotted against us. Through this we have grown as disciples of Jesus, learning to be gentle as doves and wise as serpents. We have grown in trusting God and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. We have taken up a cross to become intimate with the struggles of the poor, the oppressed, and the least of these.

Just like Kylan has grown from a baby to a school-ager, we have grown from baby Christians into full readiness for the ministry. We have graduated our Holy Spirit training of hardships and trials. Our tree has survived the winter and I see the beautiful pink blossoms of spring. We are growing into summer and the fullness of our destiny. As Kylan begins his school, we begin our church.

I am looking forward to 2015 and all the new growth as we launch our ministry of love.

I Am Looking Forward to Peace in 2015

I proclaim that 2015 will be a year of peace.

2014 was a turbulent year. I lost two jobs through no fault of my own. I was let go from KinderCare in February 2014 because I had an asthma attack at work after my boss required me to come in for a week with the flu.

I got a new job at Little School Saint Paul, then my boss laid me off in November 2014 because I sprained my ankle. This was even more hurtful because my boss there was a pastor’s wife, but she showed me no compassion when I cried that she would make my family homeless at the holidays.

These were stressful times, but God took care of us. He sent compassionate people to donate and we stayed housed through the holiday 2014. People even donated Christmas presents to Kylan.

I am looking forward to 2015 as a year of peace. We have seen new friendships sprout up, and God has raised up more people for us than against us. The peace of the Holy Spirit will surround us and bless us in 2015.

Looking Forward to 2015: A Prophecy

God says,

Amy,

2015 will be a year of blessing and spiritual prosperity for you, your family, and the people you disciple. Those who bless you bless me, and those who curse you curse me. I am so proud of you and your growth on the holy road.

As you watch the ball drop tonight I want you to see it as a prophetic sign of all my good things to come for you. Let the ball drop on your pain and bitterness from those who have mistreated you. You have been refined in the fire, and you glitter like the ball. Prepare for the dancing in Times Square as I use you in my movement on the East coast.

Jesus says,

Amy,

I am proud to call you my disciple. The way of the cross is hard. I see you struggle with fear and doubt, but I want you to remember that I am the good shepherd and I always provide for my sheep. You have journeyed the valley of death, and 2015 will be your year of green pastures. Trust me, your redemption is at hand.

The Holy Spirit says,

Amy,
I am going to increase your healing gift. Your pain will heal others. I love you, and I will teach you to grow even more in compassion. I also am surrounding your son, teaching him wisdom as he grows. He will be a great prophet and teacher.

Enjoy 2015, my little dove.

Happy New Year, friends. I hope you are looking forward to 2015. This is a fresh start and a fresh year for you to leave behind hardships and anything that is troubling you. Contact me if you would like a personal prophecy about what God is saying over your 2015.

looking forward to 2015, abstract firework
Image caption: [Pixabay] Geralt Licensed under CC0 Public Domain.