“And this is what we know for certain: ‘It’s the lower jaw that moves.’” (Victor Hunter and Lanny Hunter, Stories of Desire and Narratives of Faith” We all work from a reference point of our assumptions. For those who seek to be connected to the ecumenical church and the interfaith movement, an important assumption is a willingness to engage in holy conversation. Listening and talking are essential disciplines to the spiritual journey. We talk and we listen. We listen and we talk. However, the conversation involves more than just the people in the room. The conversation involves reflecting on the wisdom of Holy Scripture. What does Scripture have to contribute to this conversation? The advantage of interfaith fellowship is the reality Scripture has its own dialogue with other Scripture which widens the reference point of wisdom. The conversation involves reflecting on the wisdom of our religious heritage. Each of us lives not only in the context of our personal human experience but also in the context of our religious tradition. When we talk, we are also listening to the voices in our tradition. What do the grandmothers and grandfathers of our faith heritage have to contribute to the conversation? In the ecumenical church, the conversation expands to other traditions of the church. In the interfaith fellowship, the conversation expands to: How does your heritage help move forward into the future God intends for all creation? The conversation involves listening with a third ear. You listen to what is being said, and then you listen for the voice of the Holy. What do you hear from the Spirit? Is it in line with the teachings of Holy Scripture? Is it congruent with the values of your religious tradition? Does it reflect the values, as you under them, of a higher purpose than human ambition? The conversation involves hearing the voices of the world. Most of us belong to worldwide religious traditions. The Africans see things differently than the Europeans, mixed in with the Asians and the Americas. It gets complicated; yet, when everyone is committed to the quest for truth, the potential for goodwill prevails. Qoheleth, the teacher in Ecclesiastes, cautions the chasing after the wind. Apparently, it has been a strong human characteristic to huddle together and listen only to your team. Our participation in interfaith and ecumenism helps to stretch our limited vision into a more profound wisdom. No doubt, there are days where we need to force ourselves to sit and listen, but, if we keep our desire to know and be known by a Truth beyond ourselves, listening and talking in holy conversation becomes a priceless gift. Pastor Doug Goodwin, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Sheridan, Wyoming. Also Treasurer of the Wyoming Interfaith Network.
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