Tuesday, September 19, 2006


So, I visited a mosque and a synogogue on Friday afternoon/early evening. It was quite an interesting experience. Half of the service at the mosque was in arabic. It was different. After the service (yes, they have a sermon too) I got a chance to atlk tot the preacher for the afternoon. We eventually got to talking about what we believe and why. He taught me a lot about the Islamic faith, and he said I taught him alot about the Christian faith.

The Jewish temple was also really interesting. It was a conservative Jewish congregation. We got to read in Hebrew and all. My Hebrew sucks. But it was all good because they had english transliterations in the hymn-book thingy.

The sermon at the mosque was about the proper observation of Ramadan and why this year should be the most special and that Muslims can use it as a spiritual growth time of year to really make a difference in their lives. (Much like Christians can use lent, or just let it pass by). The sermon at the synogogue was also about the start of an upcoming holiday, and how people (jewish) should properly observe it.

What was really interesting that I did not get in either service, was the idea of grace from God. Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet, because God would never lower himself to become like us. Therefore, Jesus cannot possibly be God. The Imman teaches that people cannot have any certainty of the afterlife, because we don't know how God's going to judge us.

In the Jewish (conservative) faith, it is much the same. We must keep the law and the Sabbath in order to the on God's good side it seems. But absent from both faiths is what we call grace - what Christians believe. That Jesus did lower himself in an unimaginable way in order to provide a bridge over the gulf our sins created between us and God. That's the kicker, the punchline - that while it's inconceivable for God to become human, that's what happened because God is a loving God above all else. So, he offers us grace.

And because he offers us grace, the law which we cannot always keep does not determine our relationship with God now or in the future. I have found my Messiah and he is a God of grace and compassion. I can't ever be good enough to keep this command or that one at every moment of my life. But I can love. And that's the purpose of this grace that we're offered.

I really learned a lot, Friday. God really is good.


Chris said...

Wow. It's cool that you got to sit down and talk with them, especially the muslim. I have to ask: how do he and his ... uh, congregation? ... feel about history as of late? The bombings, the war, the violence over the Pope's comments, etc.

cruz-control said...

They at first joked about the whole thing. "Don't worry we won't blow you up here," they told us when we walked in.

But we actually had a nice discussion about the whole violence and nonviolence thing in both Christianity and Islam.

I brought up bin Laden, he brought up the crusades and we both had the same response: they are no true practitioners of the faith.

He said that bin Laden does not follow the teachings of the Koran, and therefore though he calls himself a Muslim, he is really not.

Just as the Pope who called for the crusades based on the desired to obtain power and control over Europe, was not following the teachings of Jesus, though he called himself a Christian and did what he did in Christ's name.

We also discussed the issue of pacifism. While there are a few Muslim pacifists, there are not many. Most will hold to a the idea of self-defense and, for some the defense of others. But the vast majority of Muslims do not believe in killing, especially Christians.

The Koran teaches that People of the Book (Christians and Jews) serve the same God as Islam, and therefore we are all on one side.

interesting, huh?

Chris said...

That is interesting, and yet we seem to be seeing quite the opposite in the middle east, especially in response to the pope's comments. Aside from the war, the fact that the muslims (cultural muslims, maybe?) in the area responded so violently to an alleged "insult" (which, if they'd read the context, isn't much of an insult but rather an invitation to dialogue) seems a bit dodgy to me. Most muslims, especially those in the US (and to think, the Iranian woman who became the first space tourist is a practicing american muslim) seem pretty nice to me, but ... those living in the middle east ... I just don't know what to do with it.

Chris said...

This might be interesting in light of recent discussion ...