Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Gracious Meetings

Wednesday, January 6, 2010 -- The Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Year Two

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 943)
Psalms 46, 97 (morning) 96, 100 (evening
Isaiah 49:1-7
Revelation 21:22-27
Matthew 12:14-21

"I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." Isaiah 49:6b

On the Epiphany we celebrate the manifestation of God's incarnate revelation to the world. At our Eucharists today (10:00 and 6:15) we'll tell the story of the visitation of the Magi to the Child. The Holy Family welcomes their gifts as these visitors from another land and another faith pay homage to the Child. Then the travelers return to their home country and their own customs. It is an image of a gracious meeting.

In 1984, Thomas Keating, an American Roman Catholic Benedictine monk, invited a group of spiritual teachers from various world religions to visit the monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, to pray together in silence and to share their own personal spiritual journeys -- Buddhist, Tibetan Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic, Native American, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic. The group talked and prayed together.

Their visits were so stimulating that they continued to meet annually. They began to investigate points of agreement among them, and began to create a list. The initial list was published under the heading, "Guidelines for Interreligious Understanding." Here are its original eight points of agreement among the religions:

1. The world religions bear witness to the experience of Ultimate Reality to which they give various names: Brahman, Allah, Absolute, God, Great Spirit.

2. Ultimate Reality cannot be limited by any name or concept.

3. Ultimate Reality is the ground of infinite potentiality and actualization.

4. Faith is opening, accepting and responding to Ultimate Reality. Faith in this sense precedes every belief system.

5. The potential for human wholeness -- or in other frames of reference, enlightenment, salvation, transformation, blessedness, "nirvana" -- is present in every human person.

6. Ultimate Reality may be experienced not only through religious practices but also through nature, art, human relationships, and service of others.

7. As long as the human condition is experienced as separate from Ultimate Reality, it is subject to ignorance and illusion, weakness and suffering.

8. Disciplined practice is essential to the spiritual life; yet spiritual attainment is not the result of one's own efforts, but the result of the experience of oneness with Ultimate Reality.

They subsequently added some things of a practical nature to their list of agreements. The full text is available at this address: which includes a marvelous collection of resources on interfaith dialogue. The last entry on that web page, ""Toward a Christian Biblical Understanding of World Religions" might be of particular interest to Christians who recognize that the Bible has various ways to approach our relationship with other faiths.

At the 1993 Parliament of World Religions, 142 representatives from all of the world's major religious faiths signed a remarkable statement of agreement titled "Towards a Global Ethic (An Initial Declaration)", inviting faithful people from every tradition to unite around some fundamental moral and ethical principles.

In a decade where sectarian religious violence threatens so many parts of our planet, it is more important than ever for us to do the work symbolized in the gracious meeting of Magi and Christ. Today we honor the universal presence of God's revelation and manifestation throughout the world even as we name our experience of that Ultimate Reality through Jesus. May we share in the work of being light to the world, that God's salvation may reach to the end of the earth.


Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117

An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location --

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


At 9:29 AM, Anonymous janetlgraige said...


Wow. Thanks for the web references and listing the 8 guidelines. This is incredible work by many monastic faith communities and interfaith groups. Have you read - a letter from Muslims to Christians?

Peace and Light,

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Lowell said...


No, I don't know I'll read it today.

There has been so much good work, particularly in the 20th century, to build bridges between Christian denominations and among the various enduring faiths. That work is being challenged by extremists and fundamentalists of many stripes. But I believe that the good work will endure and will prevail over time.



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