i've been to an event organised by the waikato interfaith council today, to commemorate the week of prayer for world peace. it's an annual event, and this year, the week is from 17th to 24th october.
we keep it pretty simple here in hamilton, with people offering prayers from their own faith traditions. there's some really beautiful stuff that comes from that, and it's nice just to have time to reflect. i chose the following verses from the qur'an (2:153-157), more because i love them than because they were particularly relevant at that moment:
Oh you who believe, seek Allah's help through patience (in adversity) and prayer. Verily Allah is with those who are patient (in adversity).
And say not of those who have been killed in the way of Allah that they are dead; nay! they are living but you perceive it not.
And We will test you with something of fear and hunger, and with the loss of wealth, lives or the fruits (of your labour). But give glad tidings to those who are patient (in adversity).
Those who, when afflicted with adversity, say "We belong to Allah, and to Him we will return".
These are the ones upon whom are the blessings of their Lord, and mercy; they are the ones who are receive guidance.
although i must say these verses sound much sweeter in arabic than they do in english. there were also hindu, jewish, catholic, methodist & baha'i readings this evening.
the week of prayer for world peace has been going since 1974. and yes, i know people will say that our prayers can't have been too successful since we can hardly say we live in a world at peace. for me, the act of coming together for prayer is a chance to commit to peace in an active way, and to work for peace. we may not be able to solve the problems of the world, but we can work individually and collectively in our own communities to make a difference.
also, the act of coming together and praying together is a pretty strong statement of peace, especially given that various faith groups are involved in conflict around the world. that we are able, not to put aside differences, but to acknowledge and respect them is an important step. i particularly like these paragraphs from here:
Thirdly, we recognise that inter faith partnership does not itself imply agreement. The things we agree on are many, and precious. The things we disagree on are precious too. When we stand with a follower of another faith who is praying, whenever we can agree with the prayer, we give it our interior assent. Where we cannot agree, we withhold our interior assent. It is still good to stand with that person as a friend and as a partner for peace.
that's why i think events such as this are worth my time, even if i don't see an immediate or direct result.
on the basis that one of the cornerstones of peace is justice, i strongly recommend that you take part in the day of action for work rights tomorrow (ie 20 oct). the standard has a list of events across the country, and i hope there is one you can get to.