This weekend our pastor took the confirmation class on a weekend retreat to visit other religions. He planned out a weekend to give the confirmation students a wider perspective of religions and what makes Christianity different before they are confirmed.
We started with the Jewish synagogue on Friday night, then Saturday morning we visited an Islamic Mosque and then an Orthodox Cathedral, Sunday we ended the trip with a Buddhist temple and a Baha Center.
Some of the questions the kids asked were so insightful and visiting the various religions really got me thinking. Do we ask Christians act the same way?
What do I mean by that? Well this weekend I was struck over and over again on how gracious and welcoming each group was. To give an example at the mosque the leader invited the kids and us to enter the mosque it's self and he would show us how they go about their prayers. So here enters 13 people (8 of which are 12-15 years old) not the quietest group and there is a man doing his prayers in the room. The leader continues and walks through the prayers and questions from the kids. Mid-way through the man saying his prayers finishes and walks over to our group. He welcomes us and asks if we have enjoyed our time and tells the kids about outreach programs the mosque is doing in the community.
It got me thinking would we be as gracious if a group interrupted our prayers. How many times have we gotten annoyed when people talk or fidget during our prayers. I know I am guilty of this on a regular basis.
Another time this struck me this weekend was at the Buddhist temple, the leader set up the meditation cushions so that we were in the front rows. The regular worshipers sat behind us and now one complained, sighed or grumbled about it. In fact they took time out of the service to explain to the kids and us adults what they were doing. How many times have we heard the stories of people within the church getting up set when someone sits in their pew. Or when we just skip through our traditions with out explanation to visitors on why we are doing it.
This weekend got me thinking how can we (I) change to be more like these hosts. My church prides its self on how welcoming we are in the community to visitors. But are we really? Or have we just gotten by on surface nice. Now it is my turn to remember this the next time I am frustrated or wanting it just so or forgetting to just stop for a minute and explain.