Please enjoy the latest issue of The Labyrinth.
Not long ago I joined a Daughters of Abraham book group. This group, made up of women from the Jewish, Islamic and Christian faith traditions, meets every month or so to discuss books we are reading on our three faith traditions. I knew going in that this would be a good and growing experience for me, but I did not anticipate the many blessings that have come to me through this group.
There is a saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know” and I have found that to be very true. I have learned so much from the books we have read together. Before joining this group I did not know much of the history of Islam and though I had studied the history of the ancient Jewish people as part of my seminary education, I only had only disjointed knowledge of more recent Jewish history. In our group conversations around these books, my sisters have shared their lived experience of their faith traditions with me, in ways that have captivated and educated me. For instance it is one thing for me to understand what the month of Ramadan is, it is another to hear personal stories from my Muslim sister about the spiritual riches that accrue in her life and the life of her family as they observe this sacred month in their religious calendar.
In the past I was fond of saying, “There is so much more that unites us than divides us- so much more we hold in common than is different among us.” What I realize now is that while in an overarching way that statement is true, it is also true that our religious traditions are quite distinctive and unique in their themes and the practices they have developed to draw their members into the presence of God. To focus only on what we have in common is like focusing only on the words that various languages have in common – it is to lose the rich nuance and beauty of the distinctive whole. The daughters of Abraham from traditions other than my own have shown me that. There is amazing freedom in not having to think that there is only one right way to be a person of faith.
I am grateful for the opportunity this sisterhood offers me to be reflective about my own Christian heritage and tradition, in which I am firmly rooted, and whose beauties I am grateful to be able to share through my ministry. Thanks to the Daughters of Abraham I am also much more aware of ways my religious tradition has contributed to a complex history of mistrust and violence in the human family. I find myself now engaged in ardent prayer that goes like this:
Gracious and All Loving God, lead me and guide me as a person of faith in ways of thinking, listening, speaking and acting that honor your image in each person I meet. Help me to draw on the riches of my religious tradition to bless others in your name. Thank you for the understanding and love that is taking root in our small group of your daughters and in many places around our globe. May it be, that movements of love, respect and interwoven existence overtake and transform the strife and violence done in your name. Amen
I invite you to join me in this prayer this summer. Summer is a season of growth. May you be blessed with your own opportunities to grow and stretch as you dare to reach out across lines of difference. I believe God rejoices, and our world is a better place whenever we do!
The Rev. Martha Hubbard is Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Newburyport, MA
Here are online resources about the ongoing crisis of refugee children from Central America. You are invited to contribute other resources by leaving a comment or by sending email to email@example.com.
Refugee Immigration Ministry in Malden, MA
Kids In Need of Defense — a legal assistance NGO.
The Center for Democracy in the Americas offers commentary and perspective.
Handouts and Materials
Sermons and Homilies
General Background Information
Linda Garrett writes a fine monthly dispatch called El Salvador Update / Informe mensual El Salvador for the Center for Democracy in the Americas. Her articles conclude with lists of recommended reading.
#RefugeeChildren at the Border – NYTimes : Fact sheet from July 23.
Cristosal’s Special Edition Newsletter of June 2014, which includes a listing of government position papers.
Lynette Wilson’s recent Episcopal News Service article
Cristosal Conference Call from July 14, 2014
I once heard Martin Smith SSJE speak about baptism- he extolled the merits of full immersion baptism saying something to the effect of,”Full immersion tells us that from the very beginning there is no shallow end with God- in Christ we are fully immersed in God who buoys us up on all sides.”
For the last two weeks our family has been fully immersed in French here in Sancerre, France. From the very start our teacher, Beth, spoke only French to us. There was no wading in via a shallow end- it was right into the deep end. After the initial “etat de choc” I was amazing by how each day it took only a matter of minutes for my mind to flip into hearing, understanding and producing French when there was no emergency exit of my mother tongue. 34 class hours later Marcella, Nicolas and I have made good progress.
We now rise out of this immersion and begin to weave this newly strengthened lingual thread into our continuing journey.
I pray these weeks have allowed you to be immersed in endeavors that bring you strength and joy!
The L shaped building with the turret is Coeur de France Ecole de Langes where we have been studying French- this picture is taken from the top of the medieval tower of Sancerre
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My sister-in-law, Claudia, was in Ireland recently and brought a St. Brigid’s Cross back to my Serena, my mother-in-law:
The legend attached says,”In her endeavor to explain the Passion to a dying pagan, St. Brigid wove a cross from the rushes strewn on the floor.”
May our lives be such Weavings of faith!
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We are safely in Switzerland and mostly over our jet lag. Went to Mass with my Mother -in-law this morning. New at her church is a screen with lyrics to hymns- so I could actually sing along in French!
Here is a picture of the vineyards near Marco’s mom’s house:
Here is a nice sabbatical “Godincidence”- when planning for our sabbatical a year and a half ago I went online to find a school for French immersion, found the one in Sancerre, France and then quickly booked our 2 weeks there after we got the grant. Only then did Marco look at the map and realize Sancerre in close to where Riad- one of his long time friends and high school classmates from Tunisia – spends his summers. Marco just phoned Riad and started making plans to get together while we are there (August 2-16) Riad’s father is Tunisian and his mom is French. Since they speak only Arabic and French it will be good language practice for me and the kids while we are there.
It was such a pleasure to hear Marco talking so excitedly with Riad on the phone today! What a wonderful opportunity for Marco to renew this friendship. Thank you God for weaving our threads of language and friendship together this way!
Blessings to you all,
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