MINNEAPOLIS, MN (March 15, 2012) – Choirs from Jewish and Christian faith communities sang during a recent Sunday morning service at First Covenant Church to coincide with a preaching series on hospitality. The morning’s topic was, “Learning from People of Different Faiths.”
Participating in the morning were choirs from Shir Tikvah Synagogue, Bet Shalom Synagogue, the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir, and First Covenant Community Gospel Choir.
Wendy Goldberg, music director of the visiting Jewish congregation Shir Tikvah, wrote a letter of gratitude, noting “that most religions have poor track records in welcoming each other.”
The service was built around the text of Psalm 119:57-64, which is common to all the Abrahamic faiths. He noted that at the founding organizational meeting of the Covenant in 1885, the sermon preached before the vote came from Psalm 119:63 – “I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.”
In his sermon, Collison said the leaders of different religions he knew in Minneapolis regretted the militant wings of their respective faiths. Although the Covenant always has sought to share the gospel, “Historically, the Covenant family of churches has resisted the extreme edges of the Christian faith and has attempted to live thoughtfully with others.”
Collison shared that at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 some Christians protested the Parliament of World Religions, calling it a “hand tool of Satan.” “The Covenant saw no reason for such dualities and participated in the Parliament and presented a paper introducing itself to the myriad of other world religions,” Collison said.
Although there were no Muslim singers, Collison illustrated his sermon with the story of a congregation member who drove through a red light and hit a van carrying a Somali family of five. Although both vehicles sustained severe damage, no one was injured.
As it turned out, a taxi driven by a Somali man had been following the van when the accident occurred. He offered to take the church member home at no charge and would not accept any fare she offered.
When the member asked why, he told her, “I am Somali and a Muslim – I think we both worship God who says you must love your fellow man.”
The driver added his actions also were born of gratitude. “I came to this country 17 years ago at age 13; your money and your taxes provided a way for me to be educated, to have a family, and to be a productive citizen. Now I am able to give something to you.”
The driver then gave the woman his cell number and said that while she was without a car, she should call him, and he would drive her anywhere at no charge.
During the ride, the driver had said he lived just several blocks from the church, and the woman replied, “When you pass our building, remember that I am praying God’s blessing on you for your encouragement and generosity to me.”