Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ecumenical Baby!

So I'm on my way back to church from lunch (McDonalds, #11 in case you were wondering) and near the intersection right down the street (a fairly major one) there is a car stalled in the right lane.

I drive by, looking back to glance at the driver, and he looks like he could use a friend.

So I park at church, and walk back down to the car. I say hello and in somewhat broken english, get the same response.

The man's name is Mohammad, he's very nice, and very greatful that I stopped. I offer to push his car to my church's parking lot (a very masculine, but foolish instinct, the road is at a slight incline) and get him some help. He is somewhat apprehensive, and who wouldn't be, because tow trucks can be pricey.

About this time a St. Louis County officer pulls up and radios to another police car with one of the guards on the front to push a car in just this type of scenario. So, they push the car up to the church while I called the tow truck.

Turns out Muhammad is the Imam at a new mosque not to far from my church. After the officers left we chatted while we waited for the tow truck. He was very friendly and I think we were both relieved that we could both be sincere in appreciating the other.

The tow truck comes, and I had offered to give Mohammad a ride. Even after the tow guy said he could just take him, Mohammad invited me to come see the newly completed mosque.

It was really cool, I had never been in a mosque before. We chatted about the Muslim tradition of praying 5 times throughout the day and about how his community had gotten started. We were both interested in working together in the future. We talked a little theology, I mostly listened. We talked about what Islam and Christianity had in common, the main difference coming from what Mohammad called "the philosophy of the trinity."

What would not have made much of a difference was me sitting there and trying to give an apologetic of trinitarian doctrine in the middle of this man's mosque. What did make a difference was a sincere and mutual kindness between Mohammad and I: hospitality was shown in me paying for his tow truck, and in him giving me an extensive tour.

It was quite a lunch!

1 comment:

Professor RJ Gumby said...

What a great story! I love to talk with people of other backgrounds, world views, faith etc. Focusing on what is common is the basis of forming a relationship, and even my atheist friend would agree.

I returned to church and my faith due to the influence of a wonderful business associate and mentor who was Jewish and very connected in the national Jewish Reformed movement. He pushed me when Daniel was born to get back to my faith. We talked about the commonalities between our faiths, and I had some wonderful conversations with some rabbis.

The world wants to group us and tag us with labels. I for one, like to make that harder to do.

Thanks for sharing!