Interfaith Worship Leadership
This was an interfaith marriage first.
Last Sunday, Fred and I led the Binkley Baptist Church inter-generational worship, an early service held each week during summer and once per month during the academic year. The inter-generational service is designed to be informal, child-friendly, and a sacred time that doesn’t necessarily look like “big church.”
Our Christian-Hindu marriage has thrived on a single golden rule: we always worship together. Last Sunday, we took our household pledge to the next level: we led worship together. We prayerfully read lectionary passages, crafted liturgy and a homily, practiced discussion questions, recruited lectors, and even threw in a Gospel skit. The service unfolded Sunday morning as only it could have–organic and lovely–in the beauty of a small space called the lounge, were congregants are free to sit closely, express what’s on their minds, and laugh.
Fred as Priest
Fred is ordained in his tradition, as am I. Fred (known by his initiated name of Gauravani dasa) served five years as a monk, including one-and-a-half years of his tenure in a remote monastery in North California with his guru. In Audarya, he was the temple priest for morning arati and evening puja (worship services). Fred’s priestly perspective is one of discipline and ritual; Hinduism’ deity worship is a finely prescribed liturgy of precise moves and litanies—all prescribed by Scripture. I love watching him in his element.
Last Sunday’s Gospel lesson of Luke 7:11-17 describes Jesus’ “gut feeling” (esplanchnisthe in the original Greek text) of compassion when he encounters the widow in Nain. Jesus’ visceral response is strong it evokes the action of bringing the widow’s only son back to life. When I think of Binkley’s compassion toward my Hindu husband, I have a deep response. My heart and eyes swell with gratitude, my mascara runs, and I wonder at the miracle of a Baptist church loving its members so much that it welcomes and loves their partners—even if those partners practice very a different faith.
Not the Same Faith, but a Deep Faith
Though Fred and I approached the Christian worship service at Binkley with particular frameworks, we were propelled by the same hunger of wanting to serve God. This is the essence of Saffron Cross and all interfaith relationships: it’s not necessary for all of us to have the same faith; what we’re really longing for is someone with which to share deep faith.
Looking for something different? Join us for the inter-generational and traditional worship services at Binkley Baptist Church.
What lessons have you learned from worshiping in your own and others’ faith communities? What’s surprised and shaped you? Leave a comment below, post on Facebook, or tweet a response to @jdanatrent.
Want to know more about the adventures of a Christian minister and Hindu monk? Pre-order Saffron Cross today!