Readings from Inter Faith Week 2016

Inter Faith Week 2016
Tuesday 15th November, Kendal Town Hall
Readings and prayers on the theme of Belonging

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Ephesians 1:3-10    New International Version (NIV)
Praise for Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship[b] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he[c] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

Proverbs of Africa

Don’t ask me where I am going but where I have come from.

If you have much, give from your wealth;
and if you have little, give from your heart.

From: The house of the heart is never full.   Guy A Zona


Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us all? Why then do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, and profane the covenant of our fathers?
Malachi  2.10

You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
Leviticus 19.18


O mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female.
And made you into tribes and nations that you may know each other,
Not that you may despise each other.

Al Qur’an Sura 49 Verse 12

An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab
Nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab.
Also a white has no superiority over a black
Nor has a black any superiority over a white
Except in piety and good action.

Remember ! one day you will appear before Allah The Creator
And you will answer for your deeds.
So beware! Do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

From the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him).



Made in your image,
every single one.
Knit together,
every single one.
Called into being,
every single one.
No matter what
the headline says.
No matter what
the state of my purse says.
No matter what
my postcode says.
No matter what
my accent says.
Every single one.
Called into being,
called by name.
No matter where I shop.
No matter who I sit next to.
No matter what the label.
No matter.
God of the poor.
God of the rich.
God of the struggling
somewhere in between.
Rise with us in the morning
and dare to dream.
Turn our heads with your vision
of justice and joy.
May we work together
with hope as our guide.
May we greet all your children
by name alone.


Elaine Downie
From 50 New Prayers from the Iona Community (Wild Goose Publications)


The Beloved – here Yogi Bhajan describes the experience of samadhi or enlightenment.   A poem from the Furmaan Khalsa.

When I join myself to Truth
I got drenched with the colour that never fades!

The rhythm of my breath
Became the very sound of God’s Name.
And sitting perfectly in chardi kala
The True Guru took me by the hand.

My burning desires:
My attachment, greed and pride all vanished.
My lust and passion, my flaming anger.
Were all destroyed.
When the True Guru held my hand.
I perfected the Yoga Sat Nam.
Divine Radiance filled my Destiny.
My Master showed me the invisible Path.
And, merged in Light, my Lotus bloomed.
Light flowed everywhere….

I became the beloved when I learned how to love.
Oh People!
I became majestic and god came to live within me.

I became beloved.
It just happened.
God did it.

When I joined myself to Truth
I became filled with Light.
Light and more Light!
Drenched in Light…
The True Guru held my hand.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


There are basic needs which people have that are not always immediately obvious; but they are there, and their nearly inaudible voices are there if we can hear and will hear – signs and silent voices everywhere that say, ‘I feel there is something somewhere that I need, something that will give me peace, that will comfort me and let me know that my life has purpose and importance; that I belong!’

Some years ago a psychiatrist, Dr Henry Link, after going through years of study and thousands of cases, found – though he was not a Christian himself – that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the single greatest influence in making people happier, healthier and more successful. So impressed was he by what he learned that he became a devout follower of Jesus Christ and wrote a book entitled, ‘The Return to Religion.’

Many Christians want to put their faith into practice. They want to roll up their sleeves and become engaged in a great cause. That is what happens when people join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They are given opportunities to transform their talents, compassion and time into good works. Because we have no paid local clergy in our worldwide congregations, our members perform the work of ministry themselves. They are called by inspiration. Sometimes we volunteer; sometimes we are ‘volunteered’! We see assignments not as burdens but as opportunities to fulfil covenants we gladly make to serve God and his children.

A story is recounted of an incident in the 2nd World War when a German LDS soldier was struck by an American bullet and lay perilously ill. He told his leader, ‘Please take a white flag and go to the other side and see if there’s a Mormon elder who could administer to me.’ What a bizarre request in a war between two mortal enemies!

But seeing his condition, and anxious to satisfy what appeared to be a last request, the leader took the white flag, went across the enemy line, and asked for a Mormon elder. One was found and he, together with the German, crossed the enemy line, laid his hands upon that brother’s head and commanded in the name of the Lord that he remain alive until help could be had. There is a sense of belonging that is fulfilled in the Gospel of Jesus Christ – first to our Father in Heaven, then to our family, which can be an eternal unit, and then to members everywhere upon this Earth.

A retired couple, the Krugers, moved West to find a home in Provo, Utah. They knew no-one there, but the place felt right so they bought a house in one of the neighbourhoods. Soon they discovered that their neighbours were offering food, help and genuine friendship. They couldn’t believe it. Suddenly they belonged to other warm, compassionate human beings who brought security, warmth and the love of Christ into their lives. Their family had expanded greatly and they were happier than they’d ever been in their whole lives.
The Apostle Paul said, describing people who loved and served each other in the spirit of belonging, “Now therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the Saints and of the household of God.”

Mike Humphreys


The Song of No Coming and No Going

When I left home, I was a child. Now I return as an old man.
Villagers still speak with the same accent, but my hair and beard are completely white.
The village children see me but don’t recognize me. They look at each other and giggle,
“Where have you come from, old sir?”

“Where have you come from, old sir?”

“I have come from the same place you have, yet you don’t know there is a link between us.”

I stroke my snow-white beard this morning. The young leaves on the trees are new and green. They see no link between themselves and the seed that took root so many years ago on this very land. Villagers still speak with the same accent, but after so many years the village has become your village. To your puzzled eyes, I am only a strange old visitor arriving from some unknown world.

To come or go, to depart or return – who among us is not a wanderer?

“Where have you come from, old sir?”

You don’t see. How could you? Even if I sing to you the old songs I learned in this village, I would still be a stranger in your eyes. When I tell you, “This is my village” your eyes dance and you laugh. And I laugh too, when you say I am just telling a story.

The bamboo trees, the riverbank, the village hall – everything is still here. They have changed, yet they haven’t. A new bamboo shoot, a new red tiled roof, a new small lane, a new child – What is the purpose of my return?
I don’t know. There is a haunting image of the past. The traveller has no real point of departure and no point of arrival. Who is he, this explorer of the triple worlds?

As if to a former life – the sweet potatoes and turnip roots, the hay, the cottage – I come back to my village. But those with whom I worked and sang are strangers to those I find today. Everywhere are the children, the red tiled roofs, the narrow lanes – The past and the future look at each other, and the two shores suddenly become one. The path of return continues the journey.

Thich Nhat Hanh

[Call me by my true names; the collected poems of Thich Nhat Hanh
Copyright Parallax Press, used by permission and cannot be further copied for personal or public use.]


The Animal Refugees

I’m the only elephant in Phnomh Penh
No more of my kind you’ll see
My wife ran off from the killing fields
She’s an animal refugee

I’m a Mekong crocodile from Vietnam
When the napalm scorched each tree
I swam to Laos at dead of night
I’m an animal refugee

I’m a slithery snake from Angkor Wat
Where the mountains churned the sea
Now tourists squat in my habitat
I’m an animal refugee

When people’s homes are ripped apart
There’s appeals on world TV
No one saves us. There’s little fuss
For an animal refugee.

Sheena Blackhall (b. 1947)

Christian Science

From the King James version of the Bible,
Exodus 20 vs. 1 – 3.

1…God spake all these words, saying,
2  I am the Lord thy God, which
have brought thee out of the land
of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3  Thou shalt have no other gods
before me.

From Science and Health with key to the scriptures by Mary Baker  Eddy
(p. 340 line 15 – 29.)

” Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”   (Exodus xx. 3.)   The First  Commandment is my favourite text.  It demonstrates Christian Science.  It inculcates  the tri-unity of God, Spirit, Mind;  it signifies that man shall have no other spirit or mind  but God, eternal good, and that all men shall have one Mind.

The divine Principle of  the First Commandment bases the Science of being, by which man demonstrates  health, holiness, and life eternal.  One infinite God, good unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, “Love thy neighbour  as thyself;” annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, –  whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.


One Human Family

The conviction that we belong to one human family is at the heart of the Bahá’í Faith.
Every individual is a member of the body of humanity. Each is essentially noble, possessing a unique soul. All have a common purpose – to carry forward an ever-advancing material and spiritual civilization. All are the citizens and co-stewards of one planet.

In the new civilization called for by Bahá’u’lláh, all people must feel and act as if they are citizens of one common homeland.

“Let not conventionality cause you to seem cold and unsympathetic when you meet people from other countries… Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone; let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.”
“If you desire with all your heart, friendship with every race on earth, your thought, spiritual and positive, will spread; it will become the desire of others, growing stronger and stronger, until it reaches the minds of all men.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá  Paris Talks

“Let your vision be world embracing, rather than confined to your own self”         Bahá’u’lláh


May people begin to listen
to the projection
of the satellite ray of God,
attuning to God’s information
of Beauty and Peace and Love.
Purify our hearts, Lord,
that we may receive
Your finest transmission,
attuning our receptors
to be in harmony
with Your Word.
Help us then to project it
to help those who are just beginning to hear
gain reassurance
that they are turning, too,
to the channel of Your Heart.
Thank You for making human beings
tools for the projection of Your Love.
Please help us all to reflect it
until this world
becomes an even deeper Sea
of Your Being
in which we can swim and refresh ourselves,
and light-heartedly play on Your shore
as One family, united in purpose,
in awareness of need, awareness of Love.
Though we have so far to go, Lord,
it could be done in the blink of an eye.
Difficult becomes easy, Lord,
when You take us into Your side.
May there be Peace,
but not the peace of oblivion,
the Peace of Knowledge
and constant mentioning of You,
the One, the Restorer of Unity, the Ever-Living,
the True Life-Giving God.

[Excerpt from Words from the East by Camille Hamilton Adams Helminski, Sufi shaikha in the Mevlevi order founded by Rumi]


One of the unexpected things I have learnt in my life as a Quaker is that religion is basically about relationships between people. This was an unexpected discovery because I had been brought up to believe that religion was essentially about our relationship with God.
If we are sensitive, we find that everything that happens to us, good or bad, can help us to build a vision of the meaning of life. We can be helped to be sensitive by reading the Bible and being open to experience of nature, music, books, painting, sport or whatever our particular interest may be. It is in and through all things that we hear God speaking to us. But I do not think I am alone in my certainty that it’s in my relationships with people that the deepest religious truths are most vividly disclosed.

George Gorman, 1982, Quaker Faith and Practice

Arriving un-named
Unaccounted for
Learning to survive
To be chameleon
Adopt the colour
of the situation
Imbibe a culture in a place
I must call ‘home’
A sense of belonging
But could it last?
A ‘parentage’ that would not
let me down  –

Barbara Tonge, 2016, Kendal Quaker Meeting

God Realisation

Three things are essential for realisation of God; human birth, desire for liberation, and the company of the holy. By the grace of God you have all the three. Now, make the best use of them and attain the supreme object of human birth. What is the good of running after fleeting pleasures when you can attain eternal peace and happiness?
Renouncing everything you have taken refuge at His lotus feet with the noble aspiration of realising Him. See therefore that your life is not spent in vain. Remember this, my boy, it is possible to be born again as man and have spiritual yearnings as well. But I can assure you that the company of such holy men (disciple of Sri Rama Krishna) as you enjoy now is a rare privilege, and you cannot expect to have it always. The blessings of such holy company come as a result of great merit accumulated during many births. Therefore make the best use of this opportunity instead of wasting your life in worthless pursuits.
Faith, intense faith in the words of your guru will make everything easy for you. Without this, all forms and rituals of religion are useless. So surrender yourself absolutely to your guru as a kitten does to its mother. He will then look after you and provide you with everything. Yours is only to have simple faith.
If you wish to get real peace and happiness, and taste joy and cheerfulness in this very life hold fast to God, giving up all. Do not think renunciation consists in one wandering about with a pair of tongs in hand and smearing the body with ashes.
The outward marks of renunciation by themselves bring no good, rather they are harmful. Real renunciation consists in complete surrender of one’s self to the will of God. Pray to Him saying “Lord my body, my mind and everything are Yours. You may use them as You will.” Have you not heard that Sri Rama Krishna knew nothing but the Divine Mother, and that whatever he did was according to Her will and guidance? So always pray to God “Lord, I do not know what is good and what is bad. I am merely Your servant. Let Your will be done.” Struggle incessantly to make this attitude permanent. If you surrender yourself completely to God, He will do all that is needful. Therefore pray to Him constantly and take shelter at His feet.
One thing more I wish to impress upon your mind. Whether you are praised or blamed, honoured or insulted, whether there be a place in the world for you or not, whether your body stands or falls, once you have understood that the end and aim of human life is to realise God, do not swerve an inch from this ideal.  Say to yourself I must realise God, here and now.

From: The Eternal Companion – The Life and Teachings of Swami Brahmananda

Faith and Fire

Our Real Home

A Talk to an Aging Lay Disciple Approaching Death by Ajaan Chah (1918 –1992) an influential teacher from the  Thai Forest Tradition  of Theravada Buddhism translated from the Thai by The Sangha at Wat Pah Nanachat.
Extracts read by Jacquetta Gomes Bodhicarini Upasika Jayasili a Steering Group member of Faith and Fire an independent partnership between some FRS Fire and Rescue Services and faith communities to develop mutual respect. It also increases the awareness of faiths to FRS staff and volunteers.

The Buddha said that rich or poor, young or old, human or animal, no being in this world can maintain itself in any one state for long, everything experiences change and estrangement. This is a fact of life that we can do nothing to remedy. But the Buddha said that what we can do is to contemplate the body and mind so as to see their impersonality, see that neither of them is “me” or “mine.” They have a merely provisional reality. It’s like this house: it’s only nominally yours, you  couldn’t take it with you anywhere. …the Lord Buddha and his enlightened disciples…differed from us in only one respect and that was in their acceptance of the way things are; they saw that it could be no other way. Anyone can build a house of wood and bricks, but the Buddha taught that that sort of home is not our real home, it’s only nominally ours. It’s a home in the world and it follows the ways of the world. Our real home is inner peace. An external material home may well be pretty, but it is not very peaceful. There’s this worry and then that, this anxiety and then that. So we say it’s not our real home, it’s external to us, sooner or later we’ll have to give it up. It’s not a place we can live in permanently because it doesn’t truly belong to us, it’s part of the world.

The Buddha said:
Anicca vata sankhara Uppada vayadhammino Uppajjhitva nirujjhanti Tesam vupasamo sukho.
Conditions are impermanent subject to rise and fall.

Having arisen they cease their stilling is bliss. Even if your house is flooded or burnt to the ground, whatever the danger that threatens it, let it concern only the house. If there’s a flood, don’t let it flood your mind. If there’s a fire, don’t let it burn your heart. Let it be merely the house, that which is external to you, that is flooded and burnt. Allow the mind to let go of its attachments. When we think of the Lord Buddha, how truly he spoke, we feel how worthy he is of salutation, reverence and respect. Whenever we see the truth of something, we see his teachings, even if we’ve never actually practiced Dhamma. But even if we have a knowledge of the teachings, have studied and practice them, but still haven’t seen their truth, then we’re still homeless. When we have no real home we’re like an aimless traveller out on the road, going this way for a while and then that way, stopping for a while and then setting off again. Until we return to our real home we feel ill-at-ease whatever we’re doing, just like the one who’s left his village to go on a journey. Only when he gets home again can he really relax and be at ease.
BPS Buddhist Publication Society
P.O. Box 61, 54, Sangharaja Mawatha, Kandy, Sri Lanka ©1987 Buddhist Publication Society.
You may copy, reformat, reprint, republish, and redistribute this work in any medium whatsoever, provided that: (1) you only make such copies, etc. available free of  charge and, in the case of reprinting, only in quantities of no more than 50 copies; (2)
you clearly indicate that any derivatives of this work (including translations) are derived from this source document; and (3) you include the full text of this license in any copies or derivatives of this work. Otherwise, all rights reserved. Documents
linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. Bodhi Leaves No. 111 (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1987). Transcribed from the print edition in 1994 by a volunteer under the auspices of the DharmaNet Dharma Book Transcription Project, with the kind permission of the Buddhist Publication Society. Last revised for Access to Insight on 30 November 2013. How to cite this document (a suggested style): “Our Real Home: A Talk to an Aging Lay Disciple Approaching Death”, by Ajaan Chah, translated  from the Thai by The Sangha at Wat Pah Nanachat. Access to Insight  (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013,

Churches Together in Kendal and District

1 Corinthians 12:12-26, New International Version (NIV)

Unity and Diversity in the Body

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.

Native American Proverb

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.
Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Walk beside me that we may be as one.

It is no longer good enough to cry peace,
We must act peace, live peace,
And live in peace.

From: The Soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears    Guy A Zona


I am reading the recently published, “The Book of Joy” by HH the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in conversation together.

“The conversation transitioned to the topics of bringing together their two religious traditions, the greatest challenge of religious conflict and the need for tolerance. The Dalai Lama began by saying it’s not possible for everyone to be a Christian or a Buddhist. “There’s no other choice but for followers of the world’s religions to accept the reality of other faiths. We have to live together. In order to live happily, we must respect each other’s traditions. I really admire other traditions.”

“Kofi Annan, when he was in his last year, set up a commission,” the Archbishop added. “They called it the High Level Panel, a rather pompous title. We were from all traditions, and despite our diversity, we produced a unanimous report. We concluded, “There is nothing wrong with faiths. The problem is the faithful.”

“That’s true, that’s true,” the Dalai Lama agreed.

I asked what we must do about intolerance and fanaticism, which was flaring all around the world

“Education and wider contact are really the only solutions,” the Dalai Lama replied. “I have gone to make pilgrimages to holy sites all over the world. One time I was in Barcelona, Spain and I met a Christian monk who had spent five years in the mountains living as a hermit. I asked him what his practice was, and he said the practice of love. When he answered, there was something very special in his eyes. This is really the practice at the core of all the world’s religions- love. I didn’t think when I met this holy man: ‘Unfortunately he’s not a Buddhist,’ or ‘It’s too bad he’s a Christian.'”

All you need is love!

So be it, so it is

At the very heart of our Interfaith Franciscan Celtic Spirituality there is an acceptance that the Creator is Our Holy Father-Mother God. Our spiritual path was inspired by the simplicity and humility of Four extraordinary souls – Saint Francis, Saint Claire, St. Therese of Lizeux and  Rumi. Their personal search for God has inspired millions to take a leap of faith by honouring the Divine within. Our Franciscan Path begins when we understand that God’s love embraces each individual heart. As a child of God, we accept the words of the 23rd Psalm: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. And we accept, with the Apostle John, that these words apply to all people: God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. Brother Sean



We celebrate the time of world peace
As each person surrenders to their higher selves and gains a new inner peace and serenity
Leaves behind the residual conditioning and emotions of the past and cultivates a new level of understanding, forgiveness and compassion
Enabling the world’s population to live together in acceptance of each person’s individuality, diversity and beliefs
Embracing a new level of stability, security, world peace, harmony, unity and plenty for everyone
As each person moves forward on this level of unconditional love, may they shine and become empowered as they recognise their individual strengths, gifts and talents, and accelerate their own learning, experience, knowledge and wisdom
Let us understand how all this can effect a new foundation and benefit the highest good of mankind and humanity in actively promoting peace through the power of love, and positive thoughts, words and actions to help find individual and global solutions
May each person make a difference in our World and from this life experience move forward with understanding and enlightenment
This prayer is said with the highest levels of love, sincerity and integrity
In love, and light and healing.

I shall go to the mosque of the Muslim.
I shall enter the Christian’s church and kneel before the crucifix;
I shall enter the Buddhist temple and take refuge in the Buddha.
I shall go into the forest and sit down in meditation with the Hindu
I shall join with the Baha’is in their devotions.
I shall commune in the silence of the Quaker Meeting.
I shall enter the chapels of the Unitarians in appreciation of their fellowship.
I shall promote the work of modern theologians and of Progressive religion.
….In addition,
I shall keep my heart open for all that may come in the future.
Is God’s book finished? Or is revelation still going on?
….Salutations to all the Prophets of the Past,
to all the great ones of the Present,
and to all that are to come in the future.

Swami Vivekananda. (with additions in italics by Norman Burnell)

Message from the Trustees of the Inter Faith Network

“Inter faith understanding and cooperation are a vital part of living well together in our increasingly diverse United Kingdom. Inter Faith Week is an excellent time to highlight this and to widen involvement in joint social action projects, dialogue and learning. We are heartened by the number of bodies – from workplaces to faith groups, sports bodies, schools, colleges, public agencies and many others – who are planning events for this year. We hope even more will join them.”

The Trustees of the Inter Faith Network for the UK

Message from Minister with responsibility for faith and integration and cohesion

“We are greatly enriched by the diversity of faiths that call our country home, all of whom play an integral part in their local communities.
“Inter Faith Week is a terrific way for people to learn from one another and celebrate the tremendous amount we have in common.”

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Minister with responsibility for faith and integration and cohesion at the Department for Communities and Local Government


If you are not already on the mailing list and would like to be informed of future events please email: or call 07545 375721

Also please do let us know if you have any suggestions for events you would like us to consider holding. New committee members are welcomed at any time.