When Our Faiths Collide

This week’s Old Testament lesson comes from the book of Ester, and explains the Jewish High Holiday of Purim. This week the Jewish community celebrated another High Holiday – Yom Kippur. One of the most wonderful things for me living in the city of Chicago is it’s diversity of people. I grew up in an area where every one was Christian and white.
This week, in my life, I had the joy of experiencing Yom Kippur with friends. In the lectionary we hear a beautiful story of a brave queen who saved her people from leaders who feared those who were “other” or “outsiders”.  A timely story with our current refugee crisis, another important Jewish holiday, and the visit of the Pope to the United States.
I love these times when our faiths collide.  We connect with people on a deeper level as we learn more about other cultures, other traditions, and other ways of life.  Especially as we organically find them touching our own cultures, traditions, and simply our physical spaces.
In researching some fun family activities connected with the Jewish holiday of Purim (as it relates to our lectionary reading, the holiday is actually in March) I came upon a few articles and posts about “How to celebrate Purim (or Yom Kippur) as a Christian”.  I understand that the intention of the authors here is to explore this connection – this collision of faiths while keeping both feet firmly planted in the Christian faith.  The problem I see with this is that it makes the quiet yet firm assumption that the Christian faith is right. Not just right for them, or other Christians, but to me this is a slight at the Jewish faith. Like they aren’t celebrating their holidays right.
A similar practice I have seen is “Christian Sater Meals” during Holy Week.  Teaching about the Jewish passover practice, while at the same time almost co-opting it into the Christian Holy Week.  There is a major difference between exploring and experiencing another faith’s tradition with an open mind, or approaching this exploration with a view – what can this holiday/tradition do for me in my faith?
I highly encourage everyone and anyone to explore these collisions of faiths.  And I encourage you to do it fully in the experience of the other faith.  Instead of a Christian Sater, or a Christian Purim, go to a Jewish synagogue and celebrate in the tradition of the Jewish people.
God’s peace be with you and any community you are celebrating with this week!
Deacon Erin
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