Interfaith Dialogue, So What?

Clara (my five-year-old) and I attended the annual SW Washington Interfaith Thanksgiving Service last week, along with a few others from my Quaker congregation. Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Baha’is, Mormons, Episcopalians, Catholics, First Nations, and a few others, I’m sure, were also represented.

What impressed me most about the experience was the repeatedly stated concern for the people of our region and world. What impressed Clara most were the flute-playing and complimentary cookies.

The point of this gathering seemed to go beyond “how neat of us to all be together in one room!” Not that this isn’t important. Such gatherings can be a witness to the possibility of peace and mutual respect absent when differing religious traditions (or ugly imitations of them) pick on one another, whether through nasty words or mass murder.

Continue reading “Interfaith Dialogue, So What?”

On Quakers and the Cost of Gratitude

“You know, you’re just our pastor.” I’ve heard that more than once from members of my congregation, trying to put me in my place. Always spoken with a twinkle in their eyes, of course.

Though really, it’s less about sending me a humbling message and more something they are telling themselves as a form of self-elevation. And rightly so.

When people tell me I’m just their pastor, they’re not saying I’m unimportant. I do matter. But this is taken for granted in Christianity, that a pastor matters to the spiritual experience of a community. A pastor needs to be cared for, of course.

But in my experience, people don’t need to be told that their pastor is a gift to them. People need to know that they are gifts to one another. People who are often overlooked as “gifts” need to be told and treated like they are gifts.

Continue reading “On Quakers and the Cost of Gratitude”