We are still on our church journey, visiting a different church each week. It is enlightening and in many cases I like to feel that if a person is seeking God, that they can find Him anywhere. If the Word is being read, although things may be interpreted differently, the person is hearing the Word and will hopefully come to their own conclusions. I am forever an optimist.
This Sunday was interesting from the start. The program had a song printed in the bulletin which we were to sing. I recognized the song and remarked to my husband that we sang this song at my 8th grade public school graduation. That alone shows how times have changed. Let me digress for a moment. At our graduation we sang "He" which exalts God's power and greatness and "Let There Be Peace on Earth", another song which proclaims "God as our father, brothers all are we." I don't remember if we sang these in lieu of an opening prayer or closing benediction but I do know there is no way that would be allowed at a graduation ceremony now. Another sideline, the other song we sang was a parody of a popular song out at the time with words written by yours truly--one of my first claims to writing fame. (lol)
As we looked at the bulletin, the doxology was also written out. My husband thought there was a typo, then another, and then I noticed that the words to "Let There Be Peace on Earth" were changed also, "With God as our parent, children all are we." It didn't take long for us to realize that this church did not want to rule out the possibility that God is a woman nor to offend women by using the masculine term, brothers. To which I say, "Oh, brother."
This made me question if this church believed that the Bible is the true Word of God since Jesus on numerous occasions refers to God as his Father--not Mother nor parent. I think the Bible has made it clear. I was surprised that they still prayed, "Our Father". That being said, I wonder in the scheme of things if God will care that some people thought he was a woman.
Those things were of slight controversy for us to start. Then we got to the sermon. The Reverend talked about the Muslims wanting to put a Mosque near ground zero. He referred to the people opposing this as extremists. He said you wouldn't see people putting up such opposition if they tried to put a Christian Church where the Oklahoma City bombings took place. He went on to speak of a God of love and that we are to be "pleasant plantings".
Well, where to do I begin? I agree with my husband that it almost seems like a slap in the face to build a Mosque by ground zero. First of all, why haven't we rebuilt the towers or whatever the plan is to show that we will stand strong? Can you imagine a Mosque being built near there before we have re-built? I can't imagine how people who lost loved ones there must feel. Secondly, the Muslims must know that there will be "extremists" and I just can't imagine it being a safe place for them, I hate to say. It's certainly a bad idea all around. This is America, a melting pot, and yes, by our religious freedoms they should be allowed to build a Mosque somewhere in NY but there needs to be some respect for the lives lost due to people of the Islamic faith who may have taken it to extreme, but none the less claimed to do so because of their faith. We, who are not Islamic, don't know how many believe as the terrorists do--the ones who don't believe the same have not been very out spoken--perhaps out of fear. I don't know.
Although I do not believe in the Islamic faith and some will call me naive and some will agree with me, but I don't like to think that all Muslims are evil. I know it has been quoted in the Koran that those who kill and are killed for Allah will inherit paradise (Allah reference 9:111--I never realized the reference number before--chilling). I have heard this is interpreted in different ways by different individuals just as our Bible is. I personally think the difference is, that we have seen too many instances of the Islamic extremists over the years. We don't often hear of Christian extremists killing hundreds of people. I know, there were some in years past, but I'm talking of my lifetime.
Recently a medical team in Afghanistan were there to help people but were murdered for fear that they might be converting people to Christianity. So, for Christianity sake, they would be martyrs and for Islamic sake, the murderers would be the ones rewarded for getting rid of what they perceive as evil. The Christians believe the Islamic terrorists will go to hell (except for those who now don't believe in hell because God is all love--everyone goes to heaven, so what difference does it make?) and the Islamic people will believe the Christians will go to hell because of what they believe and were trying to brainwash the people. Can you imagine God looking down on all this? What a mess.
It is admirable that people stand up for their beliefs but not to the point of murder. There seems to be no hope for a world of brotherly love any more--especially when some people find it offensive to use the term brotherly. In our small corner of the world in a wonderful country where we can blog about our beliefs safely, all we can do in our own way is to try and live as the song says..."let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me".