Simple fixes can heal differences

Monday, March 8

Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. — Romans 14:13–21

There are so many things that get in the way of peace in the world, and many of them are so obscure, such as the way you wear your hair, what you eat or how you dress. Even among the faithful, things such as when, how and where you worship can get in the way of peace. 

A few years ago, there was a group of ministers and rabbis in Edinburgh working to include the Muslim community in their interfaith service, but the Muslim members were not coming to the planning meetings. It seems the organizers always met at the same time as the call to prayer for the Muslim community. There was a simple fix: They decided not to meet during the Islamic prayer time. 

They also needed to figure out how to include their Muslim brothers and sisters in the service itself. They did this by arranging the Imam’s prayer to occur in the ecumenical service at the very time for Islamic prayer. When it was time, the Imam gave the call to prayer. He laid out his prayer rug in the church. Muslims who were attending the interfaith service laid their prayer rugs in the aisles and prayed their usual prayer while the Christians and Jews respectably prayed in the pews. 

Sometime later, the Islamic country where the Imam was from was having trouble between the Muslims and the Christians. But those who attended and remembered this interfaith service lifted it up as a sign of hope and healing, that existing together peacefully can happen. And it was simple to do. All it took was listening to and understanding the ways of the other, and doing so with respect and love.

Lord God, in this time of Lent, help us to not judge one another, but respect how prayer and worship are done differently by others. There is no right or wrong way to give God praise. The main thing is to give that praise freely. For praise brings peace and peace means healing. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

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