“why I am a christian/buddhist/jew”
INTERFAITH WEEK in November was marked at the Mint with a special
in which members of the Exeter Interfaith Group spoke of their own faith
Extracts from that service
are included here, including Viv Davies’ presentation
on “Why I am a Christian” together with “The Discourse on Love”,
quoted by Jude Taylorson as part of her presentation “Why I am a Buddhist”,
together with an extract from Andrew Sails’ concluding remarks.
“Why I am a Christian” by Viv Davies
I need to give a bit of background first to explain how various incidents in my childhood have influenced my life, thoughts and faith.
I was brought up in a Christian home with loving parents. We all went to our small Welsh chapel 3 x on a Sunday; service morning and evening and Sunday school in the afternoon for adults and children. In my teenage years I had a lady teacher whom I regard as one of the modern day unknown Saints, and whose influence is still with me. My parents and Mrs Roberts taught me how to follow the teachings of Jesus and to accept His Grace, Forgiveness (whatever I have done), Love for myself and to give His Love to others. These are some of the most important lessons in Life. As Christian I believe if more people could live by the guidance which Jesus gave us, the world would be a happier place.
Despite this I don’t want it to sound as if I had a bed of roses as a child. When I was 6 yrs old my mother was in a tuberculosis sanatorium for 20 months and I had to go and live with an aunt whom I didn’t know, and go to a strange school. I rarely saw my father as on his only day off he had to try and visit my mother. This was also at the start of the 2nd World War. Shortly after my mother returned home and we were together again I was taken ill with a burst appendix and peritonitis. This was before the days of antibiotics and no- one thought I would survive. My father slept in the hospital for 2-3 wks, and I can clearly remember him telling me to ask God to make me better, as everyone, family, friends and people in chapel were praying for me. That feeling of people praying for me had a tremendous effect on me at 8 yrs old, but I also knew that God was with me, and was going to make me well again in His own time. I was in hospital for 6 mths and the surgeon called me his little miracle and said he hadn’t made me well. I learnt things in those 6 mths in hospital, dressed in a little nurses uniform my mother made for me, that I would not have learnt elsewhere at the age of 8; I saw a little girl of my age, from my village, die because her parents hadn’t got money to pay for the operation, which my own cousin had in Liverpool.
As I grew older and my health improved, I became very convinced that God wanted me to become a nurse. I was fortunate to train in Liverpool Royal Infirmary, and in those days we had prayers as we went on duty in the morning around the Sister’s desk, and again in the evening as we went off duty. This all strengthened my feeling that God was there with us on the wards, and I am sure the patients felt so too.
Leaving that hospital, where Faith was carried on from the chapel and home, was a challenge, although you cannot nurse patients, respect them, and then see some of them die without questioning the seeming unfairness of life. Jesus did not say life would be easy, but that He would be with us through all our troubles.
As I travelled on my road through life I found many demands and upheavals, the death of my mother when I was 21, my friend’s brother at 24, a close friend who was 25. I find I can feel God near me in these painful times, and even when I have doubts, if I hang on, and keep on hanging on, I can still feel God’s love around me.
There were happy times too; getting married, becoming a family with the 4 children, but even in the midst of this happiness there is sadness particularly with our son’s mental illness.
With joining the Iona Community I found people with whom I could discuss anything, we certainly don’t all agree, but we all respect each other’s views. I met and am inspired by many wonderful people who show me yet again the different aspects of God’s LOVE, and how to work for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. I have learnt how we can try and alter situations, maybe by demonstrating, or writing letters, to bring about a change which is nearer to the teachings of Jesus.
I often find praying and trying to keep my mind focussed difficult. The author of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament writes:- “ Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” I like that and I find if I just stop and am still and try and let my worries rest in God’s HANDS, I feel His LOVE around me. It is His Love, as taught by Jesus, which keeps me a Christian.
From 'Discourse on Love' from the Plum
Village Chanting Book
quoted by Jude Taylorson during her talk on “Why I am a Buddhist”:
“May all beings live insecurity and peace -beings who are frail or strong, tall or short, big or small, visible or not visible, near or faraway, already born or yet to be born. May or of them dwell in perfect tranquility.
Let no one do harm to anyone, let no one put the life of anyone in danger, let no one, out of anger or ill will, wish anyone any harm.
Just as a mother loves and protects her only child at the risk of her own life, we should cultivate boundless love to offer to all living beings in the entire cosmos. We should let our boundless love pervade the whole universe, above, below and across. Our love will know no obstacles. Our hearts will be absolutely free from hatred and enmity. Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying, as long as we are awake, we should maintain this mindfulness of love in our own heart. This is the noblest way of living. Free from wrong views, greed and sensual desire, living in beauty and realizing Perfect Understanding, those who practice boundless love will certainly transcend birth and death”
(Metta Sutta, Sutta Nipata)
Excerpt from Andrew Sails’ concluding comments on Interfaith Dialogue:
you to Tony, Jude and Viv for your words this morning.
As Jews, Christians and Buddhists, we understand the world in many different ways - and yet in the midst of all that there is so much we share - a commitment to love and peace, to wisdom and enlightenment.
I am aware that historically Christianity has often been highly critical of and often (to our shame) downright hostile towards those of other faiths. Thankfully that is not where we are here at the Mint. It is a joy for us to host the Exeter Interfaith Group here at the Mint - and a joy for me to share with Jude and Tony and others in the University Multi-faith Chaplaincy Team.
But there may be a few people here today who question whether Christians have anything to learn from those of other faiths.
I am particularly aware that for some of our Korean members, relations between Buddhism and the Gospel can cause tension and stress within individual communities and families back home, and this is not necessarily easy territory for you.
So let me very briefly add my personal testimony to those which have gone before (and some of this I have said on such occasions before):
If you were to ask me what gives meaning to my life - how do I make sense of suffering and death and the power of evil in the world, then I would point you to figure of Christ and the Gospel – and say “There is my window on God, and I would not change it for any other way of seeing.” And if you were to ask me – “Can you recommend a way to find love and peace and truth and justice? I would point you unerringly to the figure of Christ, for I know no better guide. That’s why I am a Methodist Minister and why I would happily share that faith and encourage others to journey with me.
But, whilst this is the faith that guides my life, this does not mean that others may not find other ways to understand and live their lives. And if - as is the case - none of us is able to understand fully the infinite truth of the universe, then we should perhaps have a natural humility when others find other ways up the mountain to truth and understanding.
remain a committed follower of Jesus - who alone makes sense of my life,
forgives my sins, and shows the way to the Kingdom of justice and peace.
I invite you all to follow his way. But none the less do I affirm and rejoice in those of other faiths who take their own journey into truth.
May the day come when we all see - not as in a mirror dimly, but face to face. Then shall all our partial truths be as one, and all our hearts united as one.
Order of Service
Hymn 36 “God is love”
All Age Ministry
Hymn SOF 40 “Be still” (주의 임재 앞에 잠잠해)
[David J. Evans © 1986 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music. CCLI No 58752]
Minister; Let us share God’s blessing.
Adults; The peace of the Lord be with you
Young Church; And also with you.
Minister; Go in peace. (Young people leave for their own sessions)
Reading: Mt 6:19-27 (p.971)
Responsive Psalm HAP 850 (Psalm 46)
“Why I am a Jew” - Tony Reese
Hymn 56 “Praise to the Living God” (Mediaeval Jewish Doxology)
“Why I am a Buddhist” - Jude Taylorson
Hymn “In star and crescent”
(© Mary Louise Bringle 2001 - draft new Methodist Hymn Collection CCLI 58752)
“Why I am a Christian” - Viv Davies
Hymn “Love is the
(during this hymn the collection will be taken)
(© Alison M Robertson & John L Bell 1998 - Common Ground CCLI 58752)
Many Faiths - Brief Concluding Reflection - Andrew Sails
Prayers of Intercession
Hymn 230 “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy”