"The first task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion is to take off our shoes. For the place we are approaching is holy. Else we will find ourselves treading on people's dreams. Worse, we may forget that God was there before our arrival." -- Episcopal Bishop Kenneth Cragg
That quote was included in this morning's Bible study on Ephesians 1:18 by Bishop Teresa Snorton of the Christian Methodist Episcopal church. It represents, I think, the most responsible way to approach ecumenical, interfaith and inter-religious dialogue.
What's the difference?
Ecumenical dialogue takes place among Christians.
I've heard "interfaith" defined two ways. It either means dialogue among Christians and Jews who share some Scriptures in common, or, more inclusively, among the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Inter-religious dialogue would include every religion.
Bishop Snorton's Bible Study was delightful. Her approach to the Scriptures is different than mine. She had me using my iPad to look at various versions and even two editions of the Greek New Testament to see where she was getting her points from. In the end, though our approaches differed, our conclusions were very much the same. There may be a lesson in that.
We stood and paused for a moment of silence at 9:02 AM, the time at which, 17 years ago today, the bomb exploded at the Murrah Federal Building killing 168 people. The Bishop stopped mid-sentence for this remembrance.
Bishop Snorton spoke gracious words about "Risking Change to Create Unity." This, she said, requires a both/and theology. An either/or theology limits our choices and options while a both/and theology expands choices an options.
The last address of the Workshop was a challenging talk titled "The Hope of Our Calling Is Exceeding Our Expectations" by African Methodist Episcopal Bishop John White.
I ate lunch with a table of Roman Catholic priests feeling very much like the dog in the manger. Then I visited a gift shop to buy a cross that I will hang over my desk.
About 2:00 this afternoon I caught the shuttle to the airport where I am sitting, once more "secure" inside the TSA perimeter, writing these words.
My flight leaves in about 1-1/2 hours. Plenty of time for a cup of coffee...