Saturday, September 11, 2010


I’ve been invited by Sarah Cunningham to take part in the campaign of goodwill, as a response to calls to burn Korans today.

Andrew Jones has also put together a group of bloggers for ‘Blog a Koran Day’ – I would have loved to participate in this too but, though I have a copy of the Koran, I don’t feel qualified enough to join in. Instead, I’m pointing you in the direction of others.

Today I am remembering a student from Oman who, on the eve of returning home, gave me the gift of a ceremonial dagger in a display case.

Today I am remembering two American women who I shared a house with while we were postgrads together; sitting round the kitchen table.

Today I am remembering the Yemeni shop-keeper whose general store, across the road from our first home after we were married, I popped in to on an almost daily basis, and who invited me into the back – the family home – on several occasions.

Today I am remembering the surprise discovery, piercing through my prejudice, of just how wonderful a person I have discovered Americans to be, time and time again.

Today I am remembering a black Muslim who saw me carrying three arrows on the street (it was a prophetic action, something I had heard God tell me to do) and invited me back to his home. He taught me archery in his garden. His father was a Pentecostal minister.

Today I am remembering the hospitality of strangers to us in Kentucky, who welcomed us into their home and considered us part of the family for the duration of our stay – which they chose to extend.

Today I am remembering listening to Muslim women explain how being covered from head-to-toe gives them a dignity and a security that they don’t see in their western sisters. And an earlier memory, of a time when a Muslim woman came to me asking about Christianity, and to my shame I described my faith in contrast to what I thought Muslims believed...

Today I am praying for New York City – for her inhabitants of every ethnic background and religious conviction – a place that I have never visited, but which, from a distance, looks so very ugly and so very beautiful; so cut by scars - on a daily basis – and so transformed as those scars are beautified. Today my prayer for the people of New York City is: Father...deliver us from evil.

Today I am praying for those who would advocate burning Korans in the name of Christ. Some would say they that they are not true Christians, just as some would say that Islamic extremists are not true Muslims. But it is not for me to judge. They may well be true Christians, who have misheard God’s heart on this matter just as I have misheard God’s heart on other matters. I cannot distance myself from them. But I distance myself from their words, their actions. Today my prayer is: Father...forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

Today I am thinking about those things my Muslim brothers and sisters have to teach western Christians – especially about living to a rhythm set by corporate prayer, and about hospitality. And I am thinking about those things my American Christian brothers and sisters have to teach us in Britain – again about hospitality, and about generosity with what we have rather than a focus on what we perceive we lack.

May God, who is Merciful, have mercy on us.

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