Friday, October 16, 2015

Jesus and Dis-Location


I have Jerusalem on my mind tonight, as I pray, as I kneel, as I praise God for another day of light and darkness.  I have Jerusalem on my mind, and many friends and acquaintances in my prayers, those I've met in visiting over the years.  I pray for their safety, and for their loved ones and lovers and families.  I pray for their spiritual strength, for their resolve and courage and commitments to nonviolence.  And I pray that the hearts of the powerful might be turned toward peace for the city whose name is Peace.  It's been a hard week in the Holy Land, and I pray that all God's children might know rest and peace tonight.

Today my very privileged work took me to the Islamic Center in Live Oak, where I joined Muslim friends (and one dear rabbi) for Jumu'at Salat (Friday prayers).  We prayed together for peace, for the wisdom of surrender and trust.  And the Imam talked about the challenges faced by Mohamed and Moses and so many other prophets: challenges that required immense faith and deep compassion and courage.  After we prayed, Rabbi Paula Marcus and I shared a bit about COPA, our interfaith coalition devoted to social justice and vigorous collaboration.  We talked about just a few of the pressures our Muslim colleagues are facing in their neighborhoods and families.  And we agreed to explore new avenues into cooperation and solidarity: toward safer communities and a more just economy and better schools and affordable housing.  

My dear friend Sheikh Ghassan Manasra likes to say that God gave the world these varied spiritual traditions so that we might learn to love one another and take interest in one another more bravely.  And I felt sure of that today, sure of God's providence, and grateful for the great privilege of praying in a mosque and making new friends there.  And imagining a greater justice and shared prosperity among us.

And from there, from Jumu'at Salat, I made my way to Temple Beth El in Aptos.  Surrounded by friends, inspired by TBE's 'Rock Shabbat' band, I prayed at day's end for shalom among earth's many peoples.  And I reveled in the mystery of God and the generous gifts of Shabbat.  We sang old Hebrew songs and spirited new tunes by Matisyahu and Bruce Cockburn.  And we danced together: Jews and Christians and Muslims.  In an open-hearted synagogue, alive with love and extravagant welcome.

It's been a long day, demanding in its breadth and spirit and vision.  But I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.  Ched Myers, one of my teachers in the church, likes to talk about 'dis-location' as discipleship.  What he means, I think, is that Jesus calls on us to step off the well-worn paths of cultural expectation and social propriety, and into the lives of the other, into the concerns of the neighbor and the poor and the forgotten.  Today had something of that for me: dis-location.  It was a discipleship day--but not in the church.  It was a Jesus day--spent praying in a mosque and then in a synagogue.  It was a kingdom day--learning to listen and build and make common cause with allies and friends across town.

It strikes me somehow that peace, justice, shalom--all this is not possible if we do not risk 'dis-location'--if we do not risk moving out of our neighborhoods and into the sacred places of others.  It's obviously more complicated than one day of prayer.  But today seemed like a step, a start, a way to begin.

God of peace, fall fresh on your planet tonight.  And help us all to dream of the day when war will be more, and the lion and the lamb lie together in peace.