World Interfaith Harmony Week #WIHW Feb 1-7

un In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly designated 1-7 February as World Interfaith Harmony Week. #WIHW This age of globalization needs enlightened people in each faith who can examine their sacred writings and traditions and identify the aspects that can benefit all humanity as well as those that preserve each religion’s identity. World Interfaith Harmony Week aims to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith and non-faith. It provides a platform, one week in the year, where people of every group can recognize their common values, build ties with each other, and work alongside one another to bring peace and harmony to their communities.World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative. This initiative, which started in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets. The Two commandments are at the heart of the three Monotheistic religions and therefore provide the most solid theological ground possible. World Interfaith Harmony Week extends the Two Commandments by adding ‘Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbour’. This formula includes all people of goodwill. It includes those of other faiths, and those with no faith. The World Interfaith Harmony Week provides a platform – one week in a year – when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can show the world what a powerful movement they are. The thousands of events organized by these groups often go unnoticed not only by the general public, but also by other groups themselves. This week will allow for these groups to become aware of each other and strengthen the movement by building ties and avoiding duplicating each others’ efforts. It is hoped that this initiative will provide a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognize that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provide a strong dosage of peace and harmony to their communities. Resources on the Uniting Church ‘Relations with Other Faiths‘ website could be helpful. Great music resources here. Scripture in the Round, a poem by Earl Livings. Sacred, an exhibition at the British Library, September 2007 Somewhere outside, the addled cultures of exclusivity clash, and clash again, as have all zealots, all purgers of scapegoats, all crusading armies, to the same breathless end. In here, Jew, Christian, Muslim, the curious, the lapsed or distant, circle these Abrahamic accounts, variations on the one theme of listening to the source of all blessings. We cannot touch the papyrus unearthed from the rubbish tip of ancient Oxyrhynchus, the gold and vibrant ink letters and images on vellum, the marriage contract, the ceramic lamp, all transfigured by the music of visionary tongues, can only stand before each Torah, Gospel, Qu’ran, as if before an opening star, and know them as incarnations of that lush silence that inspires believer and non-believer to Truth, Beauty, Good, which we carry outside, the heart thrumming. A prayer by Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy Eternal God, Creator of the universe, there is no God but you. Great and wonderful are your works, wondrous are your ways. Thank you for the many splendored variety of your creation. Thank you for the many ways we affirm your presence and purpose, Thank you for the freedom to do so. Forgive our violation of your creation. Forgive our violence toward each other. We stand in awe and gratitude at your persistent love for each and all of your children: Christian, Jew, Muslim, as well as those with other faiths. Grant to all our leaders attributes of the strong; mutual respect in word and deed, restraint in the exercise of power, and the will for peace with justice, for all. Eternal God, creator of the universe, there is no God but you. Amen. (Excerpted from Current Dialogue 24/93, p.36) Music In the space between traditions by William L.(Bill) Wallace (click on link for words and music) Deep in our minds by William L. (Bill) Wallace) (click on link for words and music) Now thank we all our God (2 new verses) If you plan to sing “Now Thank We All Our God,” that great hymn by Martin Rinkart, at an interfaith Thanksgiving service this month, consider replacing the third Trinitarian doxological stanza with these stanzas people of all faiths can sing together In temple, synagogue, from minaret and steeple, let songs of praise ring out from all God’s faithful people, to One who give us hope, in times of deep despair, that peace will come one day, and justice will be fair. Sing praise and thanks to God whose rule in love is grounded, who cares for all our needs, with grace that is unbounded, the one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore, the God who was and is, and shall be evermore.* (From Faith That Lets Us Sing, Wayne Leupold Editions, 2017)

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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