The Best of All Worlds


Monday, May 25th



Citizen Khan creator, Adil Ray, and Great British Bake-Off winner, Nadiya Hussain, urged Muslims celebrating Eid last weekend to follow the guidance on social distancing.

The religious festival marking the end of Ramadan is normally a time when families and friends get together, but this year due to coronavirus people were being reminded not to gather. Nadiya Hussain said, "this could not be a better time to put others first”,


I hope our Muslim neighbours had a blessed Eid anyway. I have to say, I admire the commitment of so many Muslims who fast from dawn to dusk, especially when Ramadan falls at a time when, in Britain, dawn to dusk is a long time. There is ample evidence during this crisis that all Faith communities are displaying the best of their leaders' teachings. It is good to be reminded that some of our stereotypes of religious beliefs and practices are derived from the the worst examples of a minority of extreme behaviours on all sides.


None of the religions of the world are free from history that is shameful. It would be easy to dwell on persecution within each Faith as well as between them. Holy scriptures have lent extremists and fundamentalists grounds for all kinds of deplorable attitudes and actions, past and present. Yet the basic tenets of all the faiths have no doubt contributed to the altruistic values embodied in documents like the UN Declaration of Human Rights and domestic creations like the National Health Service.


There is so much evidence today of cooperation between communities of all faiths and none in seeking to support individuals and families as they struggle to maintain body, mind and spirit in times of desperate need. Does not this surge of goodwill and self-sacrifice challenge us to re-examine our prejudices towards those who are different and give us a determination to widen our view of who is our neighbour?


Jesus did just that when he conjured up the most familiar image of the Good Samaritan. A man of a different faith from that of the injured traveller, rescuing him when the victim's own religious leaders turned a blind eye to his needs in preference to their own self-preservation. Such exhortations to unconditional compassion can be found in the teachings of all faiths. They must be the focus of our motivation in responding to the current crisis, and not obscured by self-centred fears for the preservation of our economy and world status.


Nationally, there is incessant broadcasting of depressing facts and figures about the corona virus. It would be so much better for our spiritual well-being to be gleaning the great stories that are out there in social media, local newscasts and in our own neighbourhoods of the myriad of good deeds and kind words that people are sharing every hour of every day.


When I needed a neighbour

Were you there, were you there?

When I needed a neighbour, were you there?

And the creed and the colour

And the name won't matter

Were you there?


I was hungry and thirsty

Were you there, were you there?

I was hungry and thirsty, were you there?

And the creed and the colour

And the name won't matter

Were you there?


I was cold, I was naked

Were you there, were you there?

I was cold, I was naked, were you there?

And the creed and the colour

And the name won't matter

Were you there?


When I needed a shelter

Were you there, were you there?

When I needed a shelter were you there?

And the creed and the colour

And the name won't matter

Were you there?

Sydney Carter


Prayer:

Mother, Father God,

Help us to see the neighbour in all who we meet.

Help us to be the neighbour to all who we meet,

Amen


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