As we gather at table today, I invite us to remember these words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
“We must not make the mistake of judging other faiths by their least attractive features or adherents.” “We should want to deal with other faiths at their best and highest, as they define themselves, and not shoot down the caricatures that we want to put up.” (16, in God Is Not a Christian and Other Provocations)
If we had enough letters and enough space, that’s a message I’d love to see on our sign. Among some people, there is little interest these days in learning the tenets of other faiths “at their best and highest”….especially the Islamic faith.
How much do you know about Islam? How much time have you spent studying the faith? How much time have you spent with faithful Muslims learning from them what their faith means to them? If you’re like me, not much.
Today, as a way of standing in solidarity with people of the Islamic faith, we’re using pita for communion. The ritual is our regular Christian ritual of communion. But within the context of this sacrament of our Christian faith, the invitation is to remember our Muslim brothers and sisters, especially those who are bearing the brunt of Islamophobia… because God loves all God’s children. God hopes for the wholeness of us ALL.
On the night of Jesus’ betrayal, he and his friends shared a sacrament of their Jewish faith—the seder meal. While they were eating, Jesus lifted a piece of unleavened bread—a reminder to those gathered of the haste with which their ancestors had to flee religious persecution. Jesus said, “This is my body. Broken for you. Eat this and remember me.”
In the same way, he also took the cup. He raised it…and blessed it… and spoke to those covenant people about a new covenant. “Drink from this, all of you. For this is my blood of the new covenant which is given for many. I tell you I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until I drink it new with you in God’s kin-dom.”
Let us pray.
Gracious God, we thank you for this sacrament—a sacrament with origins in the faith of our Jewish cousins. We also are grateful for our brothers and sisters of others faiths. Today, as we eat and drink, we remember our brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith. As Jesus’ disciples ate in solidarity with one who was about to suffer religious persecution, today we eat and drink in solidarity with all who suffer religious intolerance and persecution. Meet us in the bread and juice. Help us stay open to learning whatever you’re trying to teach us through this sacrament today. Amen.
(Sharing the elements.)
Let us pray. Holy One, thank you for meeting us in the bread, in the juice, in the fellowship of this table today. As we leave this place—strengthened by this holy meal—help us to imagine new ways to act into well-being your children in other faiths. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.