A good friend of mine has dedicated his life to reconciliation through Christian healing. Once a Pasteur of an Anglican church, he remains a faithful church goer, often taking an active role in services. What is unusual is that he by no means limits his attention to the Anglican Church and is just as likely to be found preaching in an Seventh Day Adventist church, whilst his work, which centres on Christian healing, actively embraces followers of all the world’s religions.
His open mindedness is truly refreshing and somewhat unique in a world that seems unable to find a dialogue of interfaith; a dialogue that looks not simply at what Christians hold in common but at the principles and essence of all the world’s great religions.
Instead of unity, there is a need to develop mutual respect: an acknowledgment of difference a but readiness to accept the validity of others’ spiritual truths.
For Christians, Easter lies at the heart of their faith. The Bible sums it up: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Good Friday commemorates sacrifice, the giving of oneself as a martyr for the love of others. Easter is the achievement of victory through suffering.
These are universal spiritual truths. Islam also places huge value on sacrifice and martyrdom, while in both Islam and Judaism, the story of Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son, his dearest love, carries symbolic importance. Similar teachings can be found in Hinduism.
But it is the Easter message that can draw the devout together. From suffering, goodness can triumph. Death is not final.
Conflict over religious differences is bound to persist but this weekend is an opportunity for all religions to come together.