On May 5 I gave a sermon based on Acts 10: 1-35. This where Peter realizes that everything God has made is good, nothing is unclean, including Gentiles. Meaning that Gentiles should be allowed into the newly forming church without conditions. Peter’s insights come, not from a member of his faith community, but from an outsider, in this case an Italian centurion. The point of my sermon was, as Christian, we need to be open to the best of others faiths, for when we are, we are might learn some new about ourselves and God.
Looking for and finding value in other faiths is a core belief of mine. A belief that started with a very specific incident. It was a little over 22 years ago. Ellen and I were in Guangzhou, China (you may remember it as Canton). We were in the process of doing the paperwork to bring our daughter Elizabeth home. The U.S. embassy in Guangzhou was the only that issued passports for adopted children. We had filed our paperwork with the embassy and had three days to wait for everything to be finalized. In foreign cities I’m not good at sitting around, I love exploring and gathering new experiences. I put Elizabeth in a sling and away we went to explore the city. We were on a backstreet when we came across a rather rundown looking neighborhood Buddhist temple. The door was open so we went in.
We were wandering around when we came to a small alter. Kneeling in front of it was an older woman. The woman was praying with a great deal of intensity. I have no clue what she was praying about, but it was clearly about something very important to her. It was at that moment it struck me. There is no way the God I know would find this women’s prayers any less important than mine. Here was another human being, someone else who was created in God’s image, who was in need of having her prayers heard. I have no doubt, the God I believe in, was there listening.
As I said in my sermon, I love my faith, love my church and I love the inclusive love demonstrated by Jesus. When we compare the best of our tradition with the best traditions of other faiths, we open ourselves up to gaining insights into God and how we can be better Christians.
If you are interested in hearing this sermon, this link will bring you to website and an audio copy of the sermon. Acts 10 Sermon