As our conversation began to wrap up the Imam said to me, “Bishop, I have enjoyed our conversation and I would like to give you a gift.” With that, he reached into his briefcase and pulled out a copy of the Koran. “How kind of you,” I responded and then said, “And here is a gift for you,” as I handed him a copy of the book on Bishop Whipple titled “And the Wilderness Shall Blossom”. It was clear that both of us were very interested in not only learning about but also in being supportive of each other’s faith traditions.
This is also the spirit of a recent gathering where both of us were in attendance. Leaders from a comprehensive cross section of the religions of the world had come together for a meal and conversation. This carried with it the hope of learning more about our unique faith traditions and how we might work toward greater collaboration. This is what I shared with the group, “Each of our faith traditions are uniquely gifted. And yet, we all have people both in our own faith communities and the neighborhoods where they and we live that have significant needs. Imagine if we became clear with each other about what our unique gifts are and collectively used those gifts to meet the word’s needs around us.” Sound familiar?!
“How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.” I have pondered these words from O Little Town of Bethlehem a great deal during this Advent season, particularly in light of the present challenges in our world and what my own hopefulness of how we bring our Gift in Jesus and our own gifts to meet the world’s needs. So much need and yet the giftedness completely surpasses all the need.
Beloved friends, may you be warmly wrapped this Christmas in the gift of those you love. May you discover in that love the unique gift that you are. May you take the love you have experienced and the giftedness that you are and share it with great hope and joy with others; especially those who most desperately need it.
Merry Christmas to you and all those that are dear to you!