Wednesday, November 23, 2011
INTERFAITH JOY AMONGST JEWS, CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS LAST NIGHT
Last night, Saint Joseph Catholic Church hosted the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. It rotates three congregations, Temple Beth Israel, Mulberry Street United Methodist Church and Saint Joseph Catholic Church. This tradition has been going on in Macon, Georgia between these three congregations for more than 45 years!
Rabbi Larry Schlesinger preached the message and commented on how novel and controversial these three congregations getting together to pray in the 1960's was. Today that is changed and we take it for granted.
It was a wonderful experience. In the last three years our congregations have decided that the host congregation would plan the prayer service but within their prayer tradition rather than creating something that blends all three traditions in each location.
This has worked out wonderfully, while still trying to be sensitive to interfaith sensibilities. Mulberry Street United Methodist Church worship their way and I preached. Temple Beth Israel worshiped their way and the pastor of Mulberry United Methodist Church preached last year.
This year our liturgy was based upon a modified Sung Vespers. The Rabbi prayed a prayer in Hebrew, the Methodist minister read a reading from the Book of Sirach and our choir chanted the psalms with the congregation singing the antiphons and refrains. The choir sang a Latin version of the Magnificat and incense was used during it.
A wonderful reception was held afterward in our social hall.
We had the most people ever in the past three years. In fact, we ran out of programs! That is a good problem to have. It was a wonderful mix of Catholics, Methodists and other Protestants and Jews.