Acts of Faith?
There is a start to a sermon that goes like this:
1. Close your eyes and imagine your perfect world.
2. Open them and think what needs to change for that to happen
3. Go out of the Church and do it. Amen
Short and simple. A clear message and plenty of congregational participation. I wonder what would happen if I tried it at St Marys Temple Balsall? Some relief at the gift of brevity but no easy message for congregation or preacher!
This might rate as one of my sabbatical high point reads. Like many good books I stumbled over it at the local bookshop on 57th Street – looking for a birthdaycard of all things. Part biography – part politics – part theological – part sociological – Patel explores the main threads of his growing up in downtown Chicago. He charts how he came to a conviction about religious pluralism rather than hatred. He discusses the rise in religious fundamentalism across the globe and its terrifying consequences for peace. He does so as a Muslim American with an energy that exhausts even at the safe distance of words!
His conviction about both the nature of religion and society led him into social action with the establishment of The Inter Faith Youth Corp ( see their web page www.ifyc.org ) – and organisation that draws young people together for community service. This outreach to others, often in need, enables them to understand the needs of the local community and respond together across differences.
There is an earthed vision here and a determination. We need this new blood to reflect back to us what a mess we often make of our world. We need a theological vision, especially in the Church, that is diverse and not divisive, hopeful but not Utopian – that is prepared to demand and work for a better future.
Look out for this remarkable young man – who at 30 – has achieved more than many of us could ever imagine.
Someone who doesn’t make flowers makes thorns.
If you’re not building rooms where wisdom can be
openly spoken, you’re building a prison.
Shams of Tabriz