Regardless of where one stands on the issue of organized religion, last Sunday’s community interfaith service at Waitsfield United Church of Christ to celebrate the reopening of the church after renovations to its Village Meeting House was inspirational.
Catholics, Buddhists and Episcopalians sat shoulder to shoulder in the packed pews with Muslims, with Methodists, with United Church of Christ congregants, with people from the Church of the Crucified One and with agnostics. People came to celebrate the reopening of an important historical structure in our town, but also to celebrate with each other’s faith and to celebrate with each other.
As speakers from each church and religion spoke, the words they used were so similar: opening the heart to others, seeking peace and tolerance, sharing love and community, counting blessings, being grateful.
Here are two of the prayers that were lifted up by the voices of all those present, regardless of their beliefs.
A Buddhist prayer, “The Four Immeasurables”
“May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all beings dwell in the supreme joy that transcends all suffering.
May all beings dwell in equanimity, free from the attachments that hold some things close, and some afar off.”
The Warren United Church, “The Exchange of Peace”
“Where there is peace in the heart, there is peace in the home.
When there is peace in the home, there is peace in the community.
When there is peace in the community, there is peace in the nation.
When there is peace in the nation, there is peace in the world.
Let peace begin right now, with me.”
There is something very powerful about uttering other people’s prayers, regardless of your spiritual beliefs. Sitting side by side with people with whom we share a community, whether or not we share their beliefs, we are reminded again that we have more in common with each other than we don’t.
And we are reminded again practicing kindness in the microcosm of our communities is important in seeking peace in the macrocosm of our world.