Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

Feb. 10, 2019: Being Surprised

From Sandra Rooney


This past week was World Interfaith Harmony Week, observed annually around the world since 2011. First proposed by King Abdullah II of Jordan at the UN General Assembly, September 23, 2010, its intent is to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith. In 2018, 1,232 events were recorded to have been held around the world.


Jordan plays a special role in the Middle East with its commitment to and practice of interfaith dialog. The royal family is recognized as descendants of the prophet Muhammad and the country’s Christians and Muslims citizens have lived side by side for centuries. In a region fraught with interfaith and political conflict, interfaith harmony is Jordan’s foreign policy, and interfaith forums, conferences, and dialogues take place regularly. “We are not promoting an ideology, it is about creating a common venue and safe space where people can communicate, celebrate common values, and acknowledge and respect our differences,” says Wajih Kanso, director of the Royal Institute of Inter-Faith Studies, one of three interfaith institutes in the capital.


In the wake of 9/11 and the violence and terrorism triggered by the Iraq War, King Abdullah crafted and promoted a document known as the “Amman Message,” clarifying the central tenets of Islam. It rejects terrorism, extremism, and violence, and denounces the practice of declaring other Muslims as “apostates.” Five hundred Islamic leaders signed on, agreeing on clear guidelines regarding the issuing of fatwas and denouncing intra-Muslim violence and acts of terror.


In October 2007, again led by King Abdullah, an open letter, “A Common Word Between Us and You,” was sent from Islamic leaders to church leaders. It called for peace and love between the world’s two largest faiths based on their common values of “love of God” and “love thy neighbour.” Hundreds of Christian leaders and Jewish figures have since signed “A Common Word.”


This past December, King Abdullah received the prestigious Templeton Prize, awarded annually to someone who, “through insight, discovery or practical work,” has helped to affirm life’s spiritual dimension.” Abdullah is known for his tireless work to promote peace and mutual respect both within Islam and between Islam and other religions. In accepting the prize, he announced that he would use the prize proceeds for renovations of both the Holy Sepulcher and Islamic sites in Jerusalem.


Explore…Luke 5:1–11

  • What does this passage say to you?
  • Who have you seen accept a challenge and then surprise themselves and others by the results?
  • When have you felt called to step out in faith not knowing what would happen?
  • When has your faith community taken collective action and been amazed by the response?
  • What experience have you had with interfaith dialogue or gatherings?



Oh God, may we have the courage to step forward in faith into the difficult situations of life, to offer our gifts, not counting the cost nor knowing what the future will bring. Amen.


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