We were honored to have in the our pulpit Dr. Maher Hathout, Founder and Senior Advisor of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and a long-time friend of All Saints Church.
Here were the readings for the day:
A Reading from Qur’an (Chapter 5, Verse 48)For each group of you We made a path to take to God and a manner to go through it. Had it been the will of God to make us all in one group, He would have done that; but He wants to test you in what He has sent to you. Then you will compete with each other in doing goodness. To God you all shall return, only then He will tell you the truth about that which you have been doing in this life.And here's Dr. Hathout's wonderful message of love as the cement that interconnects us all as members of the same human family.
The Good News of Jesus as written in John (13:34–35)I give you a new commandment: Love one another. And you are to love one another the way I have loved you. This is how all will know that you are my disciples: that you truly love one another.
So with those final words -- "may each person walk out of these doors at the end of the service feeling that he or she is more liberated and energized to do good for others than sticking to the primitiveness of 'my religion is better than the other religion'" -- we walked out of the doors to this:
Crackpot Christians with microphones yelling from across the street -- with a LIFE SIZE Bible ... "by Jesus," no less -- that we were all going to burn in the Lake of Fire. (Note that the picture is actually TWO Crackpot Christians and one hearty All Saintser who had ventured across the street to try to engage them in conversation, hoping that if they were taking to him they wouldn't be yelling through their P.A. system.)
As God is my witness ... I could NOT make this up. If we had decided to spend money to get Central Casting to send over some folks to help make the point of why what Dr. Hathout said in the All Saints pulpit was so critically necessary in this broken world then they'd have sent us these guys. And we would have gotten our money's worth.
I did go over and chat with them. Briefly. It wasn't clear from their hollering whether they had come because they knew we had a Muslim in the pulpit or if they were there because we had a lesbian behind the altar. They were a little nonplussed by my question -- which I'll admit I enjoyed just a little -- and while the one with the microphone was leafing through her Bible looking for Leviticus the police came and asked to see their permit -- so I figured that was probably a good time to end the conversation.
And so I went and joined the 100 folks packed into Sweetland Hall for the Women's Community celebration of Anne Breck Peterson and her 33 years at All Saints Church with a salad luncheon complete with a harpist, Chardonnay and chocolate souffle. Like I said -- just another day in Pasadena Paradise!
Here endeth the report from my day "at work in the fields of the Lord." How was yours?