The PMs Open Door Diplomacy meeting Christians and Jews


And so the job continues to take me to different places. One thing I'm always aware of is that this only lasts a year. I may have places to which I still have to go but I also know that I have to go back to the place where I am best known, among my own congregation and colleagues in parish ministry. It is this knowledge that I'm sure helps to keep the feet of Moderators firmly on the ground. One week it's Wigtown the next week it's Downing Street and St James' Palace. This visit to the Prime Minister's residence was a reception to celebrate the work of the Council of Christians and Jews. Seventy years ago when Archbishop Temple and others founded the Council for Christians and Jews it was revolutionary. The first of its kind. It was the forerunner for all the interfaith dialogue that goes on today. This is the reason why a reception was given at Downing Street. Jews were being persecuted as Nazi Germany sought to promote the "master race". Many churches in Britain and Germany acted as protectors to Jews who were under threat. Stories abound of brave Christian souls who put their lives on the line to save Jewish neighbours and friends. In his address to the assembled audience of Christian and Jewish leaders, the Prime Minister alluded to this, making mention of the fact that Faith Communities are often the conscience of a nation. He gave a short address based around the three words found in the last verse of chapter 13 of the Epistle of 1Corinthians. He quoted the three words, faith, hope and charity, without the reference to the epistle. I think he was trying not be preach a sermon, as one of his predecessor had done to the General Assembly in the 1980s. His address went along the lines, If 'Faith Groups' were important to the life of a nation then the ability to 'hope' was also essential. We all need to dream dreams and keep hope alive. At the heart of the Council for Christians and Jews is a great desire that Christians and Jews and Muslims, all three people's who claim Abraham as their father need to see the significance of each other's contribution to the world and learn to live together in peace. He quoted a story relating to a Muslim family he knew who sent their children to a Jewish school. His final thought was that the Council was part of the Charity sector and that it was this sector that made an immeasurable contribution to our society. It was an interesting short address off the cuff and it was well received. The preacher in me couldn't help but notice that the word used for charity in the AV Bible translated into contemporary language has more to do with unconditional love rather than a contemporary understanding of the word Charity which often simple refers to "doing good" It is this unconditional love that needs to be at the heart of all we do in our communities. We do not simply serve those who we think deserve to be served. We serve as Christians and Jews because the love of God constrains us. And I would hope if a Muslim is reading this they too would say amen. Personally I believe all of us who are people of faith have a great responsibility to ensure that we do not let evil use our words to stir up an evil root in the hearts of others. By all means let us as Christians speak boldly for the uniqueness that we see in Jesus but let us do it in such a way that we never insight hatred or violence towards another human being. It was a great privilege to be part of the celebration and as I spoke and talked to people around the dinner table, I met earnest people with a real desire to see peace come about in Israel. It seemed to me that the words of the Law of Moses could not be more applicable, "Love The Lord your God, with all your heart and all your soul, and love your neighbour as yourself" It was Jesus of course who drew our attention to the significance of neighbour loving. All this reflection got me thinking on the post I made a couple of years ago highlighting the plight of Douad Nassar see the video below. this Palestinian Christian refuses to call the Israeli's his enemy. In this video interview he pleads for understanding and compassion from his Jewish neighbours.
1 Comment

Posted By: Mary   On: 16 Oct 2012   At: 2:05pm

A week of contrasts for you, Albert. This meeting today sounds very interesting, it is one I would like to have been at.

we continue to pray for you. God bless you.

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