Buddha’s Birthday Celebration - May 2009

Multifaith Readings & Prayers

Christian Contribution:  Rev Garth Read

Thank you for this opportunity to share, once again, in this Buddha Birthday Celebration.

I extend to my Buddhist friends and to all present, very warm greetings and best wishes from the Aspley Uniting Church and from the North Brisbane Interfaith Group.

It is also a pleasure for me to join with my good friends from the Jewish and Hindu Communities in offering you thoughts, readings and prayers from religious traditions other than the Buddhist Traditions.

I hope that my contribution reflects some central Christian ideas and beliefs about our relationship with all other people, irrespective of age, gender, nationality, race or religion.

I also hope that these thoughts, readings and prayers show that we can all learn from one another.  Indeed I believe that members of different religions have in the past not only learnt about each others different beliefs and insights – they have, through their friendship and dialogue, been able to enrich each others understanding of life and what it might mean to explore and express spiritual insights and wisdom.

1. Jesus the Jew

My first reading comes from the section of the Christian Bible known as the New Testament.  More specifically, it is a selection of verses from a collection of sayings of Jesus that we call the Sermon on the Mount.

As well as listening to the wisdom that may be contained in these words, I would like you to realize that Jesus, the speaker of these words, was a Jew.  He was born a Jew.  He grew up a Jew.  His teachings reflect the ancient Jewish writings contained in the Hebrew Scriptures (The Tanak).  These ancient Scriptures still provide inspiration and spiritual guidance for Jewish people today.

We Christians thank Jewish people for allowing us to share their sacred writings by incorporating them into our version of the Bible.

Hear then some words of the Jew whom we Christians call Jesus Christ.

Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires;
God will satisfy them fully!

Happy are those who are merciful to others;
God will be merciful to them!

Happy are those who work for peace;
God will call them his children!

Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires;
The Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’  But now I tell you; do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you.  If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap you’re your left cheek too.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’  But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become children of your Father in Heaven.  For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil.


2. Mother Theresa
My second reading is a prayer that was offered by Mother Teresa in 1981.  Mother Teresa was a Christian Nun well known around the world for her great work of compassion among the poor and disadvantaged of India.  She was a deeply devout Christian woman who had a great respect for and knowledge of the Hindu Faith.  She acknowledged that much of the inspiration for this prayer came from the Hindu scriptures know as the Upanishads.

As a Christian I share this prayer with you and I share Mother Teresa’s acknowledgement of the debt it owes to our Hindu brothers and sisters.

Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth.
Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust.
Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace.
Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe.

And may peace be with you.

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