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‘Seeing the face of God in other religions’

Trinity Lutheran Church in Edmonton – 29th October 2017

In the Name of God

I thank God the Almighty for giving me the blessing to be here and be part of your service on such a special day. I am also very grateful to the organisers to inviting me to their very special celebration.

In both our traditions we find that everything which is created by God is also His manifestation, a sign of Him. Whether it is small or large in our sight, it is unique and special for God. In everything, we should be able to discover the signature of God.

If you consider the work of an artist, a small painting or big one, when the signature of the painter is on it you would value that painting even more. I think for us believers, it is a challenge to train ourselves, our minds and our hearts to be able to see the signature of God everywhere. This is what we refer to as ‘the face of God’; in both our religions we have a concept of seeking the face of God.

I was thinking about this concept. Of course we know that God has no body so that He would have a physical face, in the sense that we normally use ‘face’ for human beings. The face, for us humans, is a very important aspect of our being. If I want to have the best and all-out encounter with someone it should be a face to face one. If I talk to you but face the other way, this is not a good encounter. Likewise, if my face is turned towards you but you are facing the other way this is not a good encounter either. Face to face or eye to eye encounters are the best situations to enter into a dialogue.

The beauty of God, on the other hand, is that He is always facing us. It is only we that turn our face away from Him. In the Qur’an we read: “Wherever you turn, the face of God is waiting for you”. Naturally, we may find the face of God more obvious in holy places; in churches, in mosques, in monasteries…  We should train ourselves on how to keep our eyes open towards the face of God because he is everywhere. Whenever we go somewhere, we should remain focused on God and be able to see His face in everything. One of the biggest challenges for a human being is to be able to see the face of God in other faiths. For some religious people, this might be the most difficult thing to do. However, this should be the easiest thing, but it is difficult for us to see the face of God in other traditions or some other scriptures or other religious denominations. I think this needs maturity.

I am delighted to be here today and see these signs of maturity. At the same time we should be very loyal to our own traditions and act according to what we believe, in an honest way and submit ourselves to God. We should see value in other people’s religious traditions, respect them and pray to God together.

The best thing we can do is to pray to God and praise God together. If there is any conflict – and I pray there will not be – it should stay outside the walls of the holy places; it should be out of the minds and hearts of believers. If we have conflicts, these should be outside of our religious traditions and not within, outside of our practices and prayers and hopefully, we can learn how we can take this peace within to the outside world.

Please let us all work together and do not let anyone bring conflict and tension to our holy places, to our holy prayers and to our relations. May God be always with you and be your support and guide!

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