Sunday, November 11, 2007

One Family, Three Branches

Our church's adult education program is taking a close look at the Biblical text -- and at how we engage with and study it -- this fall. One aspect of our approach has been to look closely at the stories of Abraham, Hagar, Ishmael, Sarah, and Issac. A few weeks ago I led a class focused on Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, and the next week the husband of one of our pastors, a professor of religion in a nearby university, led a class on the story of the binding of Issac. We reminded folks that we should take nothing for granted, as these are foundational stories to Judaism and Islam as well as Christianity, and today we began a two-part panel discussion to bring those perspectives to the fore.

One of the very best things about my life is how many people of different traditions, faiths, and experiences have wandered through it and become my friends. Talk about gratitude (for which, see previous post)! -- I'm not sure how I have stumbled into such grace, but I do count it as one of the great privileges of my life that it is packed with such a diverse crew.

And so I'm not sure which gave me more delight today:

Was it introducing our speakers, both of whom I know from numerous previous encounters? One is an Orthodox Jewish woman -- Ph. D. scholar of Bible and philosophy, and mother of two of my former high school and middle school students. The other is a Muslim imam -- professor of Islam and Arabic at various institutions, and former professor of mine in a Catholic university.

Was it offering the opening prayer, knowing that we were embarking upon a challenging class and that probably numerous people in the room were experiencing some degree of discomfort ~ not least among them our speakers, who had never met each other and were surely wondering what to expect?

Or was it watching our two guests walk down the hall together after class, engrossed in conversation about Egyptian and Turkish soap operas?

Some days my life is completely terrific.


Lisa :-] said...

If only more of the "opposing" cultures of the world could be brought together in such a place of acceptance and scholarship...

Jan said...


KathrynJ said...

This course sounds like it will be quite an adventure. Several posts ago you said you were missing diversity - this should help.

LawAndGospel said...

Cool.. definitely cool.