Thursday, 30 July 2009

An interreligious summer evening barbecue

The closing ceremony for the Bossey Ecumenical Institute's third annual inter-religious summer school was held yesterday I was there interpreting for Geneva's former grand Rabbi Marc Raphael Guedj. It was a moving time which we ended with a rousing singing of "we are the world"
Some of the contributions from the participants really gave me hope for the future - an old cynic like me having hope for the future is really quite a concern ;-)
A wonderful pastor from the Assemblies of God in Nigeria gave a brilliant performance of why "it is possible" and not impossible for inter-religious dialogue and just simply dialogue to change the world. A young Palestinian and a young Jewish woman spoke quietly but passionately about their reservations about coming on the course and also the loneliness they felt, believing in peace but not always being able to act for peace in their communities, yet the hope they have for peace as they prepared to return home.
Guedj spoke of how important authentic rather than facade dialogue is in the building of real understanding and peace. Hafid Ouardiri from the Genevan Islamic community said how this month that participants had spent together helped to build community and encounter the other differently.
An old Hassidic story recounts that a Rabbi begins by wanting to change the world, gradually his ambition changes and he ends up realising that in order to change the world he must begin with himself. Each participant in the summer school had changed in the few weeks of deep encounter and so each had begun to change the world - holding on to this experience will be important as they move back to their own often quite conflictual and complex inter-religious contexts.
The evening ended with us all singing a rousing version of "we are the world" followed by a fabulous barbecue prepared by the Bossey kitchens.


angela said...

That sounds just wonderful. I especially liked the story of the Rabbi--it is true, so true of God's work in us all.

Jane said...

Thanks Angela - it was an uplifting experience even for those of us a little too blasé about international encounter