To the Editor:
Since 2008 North Presbyterian Church of Williamsville, where I serve as pastor, has co-sponsored an event called the Abraham Walk. It is held each year during Ramadan when a group made up of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others, gathers at North Church and walks five miles to the mosque on Heim Road in Amherst.
At the mosque we learn about the tradition of Ramadan and share in iftar, the meal breaking the fast at sundown. It is a time of celebration and friendship acknowledging our common heritage as spiritual descendants of Abraham. That night, our Muslim friends lay what is called Abraham’s Table where people of every faith are invited to share in the feast.
An important rule of interfaith dialogue is: Always learn about another faith from someone who loves that faith rather than someone who hates it. Lately we’ve been hearing a lot about Islam from people who hate it. Here at North Church we’ve had many opportunities to learn about Islam from people who love it. Also we’ve been privileged to sit with our friends from the mosque and get to know them better.
This month we Christians are celebrating the Incarnation, the event when God takes human form. The point of Incarnation is to acknowledge God’s presence with us all by meeting us directly. When we meet one another directly—sharing a meal together, learning one another’s traditions—we experience God with us.
On behalf of North Presbyterian Church, I say to our Muslim sisters and brothers: “We love you and we want to know you better!” May we all experience the peace that comes through compassion and the warm embrace of love in the days and weeks ahead.
Pastor Bill Hennessy