I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
a chance to share old memories and play our songs again.
When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
No one recognized me, I didn't look the same.
Songwriter: Ricky Nelson
Garden Party lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
I love this old song from the 70’s. This song had been lying dormant in my mind for ages and recently sprang to mind. The catalyst was when my family had been invited by our old neighbours, who are devout Muslims, to their Eid Mubarak celebration. For those not aware: the three-day festival of Eid Mubarak, often shortened to simply Eid, will mark the end of the month-long fasting event of Ramadan. I am a Christian and I have friends of many faiths, sexuality, interests and lifestyles. That’s okay with me: Jesus stands with arms wide open and so should we.
My friend Muhammed and I were talking about our children and how we should pray for them and I thought, "Yes, we should because they are on their journey and they need all the help and protection we can give them." This amazing gentle man said to me, “We need to pray for our children, after all - we share the same God.”
"...after all - we share the same God."
Talk about being hit between the eyes... I have considered this point of view a few times, but hearing it from another man’s mouth and another man’s faith made me contemplate what I believed in. This is a man who prays regularly, four times a day! He is an electrician and like me, has friends from all walks of life.
So after thinking about his statement, I came to the conclusion that historically, he may be right! But is the God of Islam the same as The God of Christianity? Are our beliefs and behaviours dependent on our faith? Or are we using religion to justify our actions of violence and separation?
There are times when all the world's asleep,
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
Please tell me who I am
Songwriters: DAVIES, RICHARD / HODGSON, ROGER
The Logical Song lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
The Biblical Three
If you look biblically and historically we all have the same God at the beginning. Don’t we? Or does the Koran and the Talmud differ? Has history and religion separated us from the original God?
(I should say on the outset I am specifically focusing on the three Abrahamic religions. The Jewish faith, the Islamic faith and the Christian faith.)
I am no expert, but here are my thoughts:
Let’s look at the Book of Genesis and the story of Abraham or Abram. Abraham had many offspring but of his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, one became a great leader and grew his faith into a great Jewish nation. The other son, Ishmael, birthed the Islamic faith or Islam. I recall a song from Sunday School…
Father Abraham had many sons
Had many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them
And so are you
So let's just praise the Lord
The Jewish faith continued for millennia and then Jesus arrived. I am talking historically. Jesus was crucified, no real dispute about that, he died on the cross. Jewish and Islam and Christian faith knows this. In Islam Jesus is held in very high regard. There are Roman records of the life of Jesus. Jesus’ followers started a new religion, Christianity - the world's largest religion. The Jewish people are still waiting for their Messiah or Moshiach. Christian's believe the Messiah is Jesus . Islam believes that Mohammed (the prophet) is God's Messenger, sent to confirm the teachings preached previously by Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets.
So here we are discussing three great world religions, all born from the same tree and the same God and yet so, so different. Was God's purpose to divide us? No...we divided ourselves. As has happened so often, man gets in the way. Our God loves us all and I know in my heart that he must weep when Jews are hurt by Christians and Muslims both today and in the past. Muslims continue to harm other Muslims as well as Jews and Christians.
Not so long ago, Christians killed and tortured other Christians, Jews and Muslims. The Holy Catholic Church ran the western world for many centuries sometimes burning heretics, sometimes starting religious wars against so many people…. When suddenly a number of things happening in a short period of time. Cyril or St Cyril as he was to become known as set off from his then home to become a missionary in Russia. Cyril eventually began the Russian Orthodox Church still Christian but not Catholic. Later Martin Luther caused the split of the church from Catholicism and created Protestantism.
The foundation of love
So going back to the party when I was talking with my friend Muhammed. I had to agree with him, yes we all believe in God, the same god. But we have created a flawed world that is separated from God. We reap that which we sow. Our anger and adoration of self has created splintering of the foundation of love. We so often believe that our God is better than their God and it’s so very wrong.
There is but one great and loving God, but like Chinese whispers, our faith has changed that which God wants. He wants us all to love each other as our Father loves us. It will happen, one day. The more people of faith like my friend Muhammed and myself, who can dialogue and love and respect our differences shows there is hope. One day a glorious coming together will happen. On that day God will sing and we will join together celebrating the one true, loving God.
I believe this and I am excited!
Christopher wants to see equalness in the world and desires to see the doors of Christianity open to all. He feels that, too often, faith and belief are used to promote individual ideologies. Christopher has been a drama junkie for decades. He enjoys reading, theatre, good food and good company. He loves music but can’t play a note, nor sing very well for that matter. He has two adult children and a patient wife. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.