Double Down on Love, Peace & Justice
The world is divided right now, but on the afternoon of Sunday, November 13th a group of Presbyterian-flavored Christians and hospitality-offering Muslims came together at a mosque in Richardson, Texas.
We came together as Muslims and Christians, women and men, black and white, North American and Middle Eastern to break bread together and listen to one another.
When I first walked into the large room and witnessed this diverse group of people learning and laughing over a meal, I couldn’t help but think first about my children and then so many others. I thought to myself, "this is the world I want my children to live into."
This is the world I want for my Muslim friend, Sarah, my black friend, Rachel, and my Rush Limbaugh-listening friend, John. This is the kind of world I want to grow old in. This is the world that I want to do whatever I can to help God create. As I walked from table to table I heard honest questioning. I saw surprised looks at some commonality between religions. I saw stereotypes shattered, and I saw hope expressed.
Here are a few of the comments expressed by our members and friends after Sunday's meal:
"Today I had lunch at a mosque with an African American from south Dallas, a man from India, and a former Black Panther from east Texas. All Muslim. All shared beautiful traditions of their faith with me and 100 other members of my Presbyterian church. God is great. And I have 3 new friends."
– Keri McCall, NorthPark member
"I am feeling a little hope after spending the afternoon breaking bread and having meaningful conversation with folks at one of the mosques in Richardson. Please seek to get to know folks who are different from yourself in some way. I know I need to be a lot better at this. Talking, listening and striving for understanding brings people together. We all have a lot in common and the differences are what make the world interesting. In the coming days, I hope that we will all seriously consider if our words and actions add to building community in this fractured world or just add to the divide. Peace."
– Myra Wyckoff, NorthPark member
"I spent the afternoon at an interfaith lunch at the Islamic Association of North Texas. It was inspiring and humbling to be welcomed so warmly, fed with much love and generosity, and to have respectful and important conversations with men and women of a different faith. We are far less different from one another than we fear, and an open mind is the only kind that can learn and grow. Thank you to Jen Bernardi, for extending the invitation and to her wonderful church family at NorthPark Presbyterian Church for organizing the event."
– Jennie Canzoneri, friend of NorthPark members Jen & Adam Bernardi
"The questions we addressed sparked some good, substantive discussion on issues of faith and belief, and the event as a whole was definitely worthwhile. I am very much looking forward to our next meeting in January."
– Jeff Howeth, NorthPark member
I encourage you to personally reach out to someone who is different than you to listen. And not just on one Sunday – but as a lifetime practice. I encourage you to double down on love, double down on listening, double down on justice, double down on peace.
A world divided does not have to be the world we live in.
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Brent A. Barry is the lead pastor of NorthPark Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas.
The November 15th interfaith luncheon was the second such event in NorthPark's ongoing partnership with the south Dallas mosque, Masjid al Islam.