By Marilyn McPherson
I was struck by the final 3 paragraphs of the interview with outgoing First Reader of TMC Sandy Sandberg, from the October Journal, which to me exemplifies the way of harmony that is the natural outcome of learning more about and connecting with members of other Christian denominations and other faiths:
“When I was a Christian Science chaplain in the military, I worked with a Baptist chaplain—he was my supervisor—and we developed a very close relationship. He was so incredibly kind, gentle, and caring in his approach—so embracing of everyone and forgiving of shortcomings. I sensed he was genuinely living a “love your neighbor as yourself” example that I could only aspire to at that point in my experience. And I recognized that, and I loved him for what he was showing me from his own religious tradition.
“We would exchange so many ideas, and he’d ask me from time to time about Christian Science. I didn’t have to convert him. The important thing was seeing the power of good, the power of Truth, the power of Love at work in what we were both aspiring to do in helping others.
“The day I left the unit, and we were parting ways, we sat on a bench together outside. He turned to me and said, ‘Sandy, one day we’re all going to sit down on the banks of the river Jordan. And we’re going to laugh about these silly distinctions that we mortals make between the gospel message—that it means this or it means that—when we know what it really means. It means loving each other the way God loves us.'”
Isn’t that beautifully expressed?
True, I have encountered the writings and teachings of Christian mystics and luminaries from the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Native American traditions, but I don’t feel that I really know what I, as a CS branch church member, could or should be doing to connect with local faith communities. My thought is that I can at least share my thoughts, doubts, uncertainties and inspiration in this discussion group and learn what others of you are thinking and doing. Can I do more than post messages online and speak with other branch church members and visitors about interfaith and ecumenical ideas? How are any of you thinking about these questions? How are you praying about peace among adherents of different religions and spiritual traditions, including those who espouse no faith?