A Report from the Prism Conference

Posted for Br. Louis Canter, n/OEF

The red glow of the candle next to the bowl filled with sand keeps reminding me of the extraordinary event I was privileged to experience in Tampa this past week.  The three colored sand mixed together is a reminder of the three major faith traditions represented at the “The People of God: a Sacred Prism “, an Interfaith Conference to celebrate the Unity and Common Life we share in the Holy One. It is a reminder of the common Abrahamic tradition we share.

Rev. Masud Masud Ibn Syedullah, TSSF, Rabbi Shefa Gold, and Iman Mohamad Bashar Arafat along with musicians of various traditions shared with us stories, music and truths which began to remind us of our common heart for truth, peace and wholeness as a people.  We experienced Jewish, Christian and Muslim hearts that desired us to re-member ourselves and the heart of the One God who wishes us to be one in heart and soul.  Music forms like the Kirtan, Sufi  and other Eastern traditions helped us to find ways to center ourselves and to search deeper for the One God in ourselves and among us as a gathered community.

In our small group sharing and in our free time we were able to share our dreams and hopes together as Muslims, Jews and Christians about what peace could look like and what steps could we go to reach out to other faith traditions and begin to bridge gaps from fear and pasts.

The Joint Committee who put the conference together had its members from TSSR, OFS and OEF which included our Sister Shoshanna as our representative. The Franciscans for unity and other Franciscan groups supported this endeavor.

The final morning of the conference, we were given a historical announcement by Mohamad Bashar Arafat that Allah wished he announce that a new order would be established “The Sultan and St. Francis for Peace and Reconciliation. ” This news was well received by all and our prayers were given for the success of such an endeavor.

At the end of the conference, we were prayed over by leaders of the conference and commissioned to go out and be ambassadors of what we experienced in our groups. As part of that we were asked to pray each day for the gift of peace in the world and specifically for bridges to continue to be built for peace efforts in the three religious traditions represented by the colored sand and beyond.  In Genesis Abraham was promised by God that “ Your  descendants will be as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands of the seashore”  each grain of sand in the Bowl I hold in my office is a reminder of that promise and our unity as members of the family of God.

So now the red glow of the candle calls me to pray for peace.  I ask us most humbly who will pray with me and the others who were at the conference for this gift of peace? Who will pray for this reconciliation and the new order?  A simple prayer each day can help build on what God is doing, and may even call us to action.  Peace, Shalom, Salam from your little brother Louis.


About John Michael

Pastor, teacher, husband, dog walker, gardener, petrocollapse agitator, contemplative, hiker. Currently serving as a Formation Coordinator for OEF and Dean of VT/NY conference of Lutheran Synod.

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