Faith in Lancaster

Local interfaith group promoting harmony through diversity

Browsing Posts published in January, 2011

The next Faithshare meeting will be on:
Thursday 20th January, 7.30 pm., Room 4, Friends Meeting House, Lancaster.

The theme for this meeting will be `Rites of Passage’.

You are very welcome to come along and join us. If you want to join in with your own experiences of Rites of Passages that are observed in your faith tradition then please feel free to bring items with you to help share your experience with others who may be unfamiliar with your observances.

We look forward to seeing you there.

A personal account of our Interfaith Week in November 2010:

Heather Wells opened the evening (themed on Light, Faith & Hope). A fascinating account of her interfaith journey followed – from Lancaster University, through India & Thailand – leading to her co-founding the magazine ‘Faith Initiative: Embracing Diversity’.

As with our Faith-share evenings, the magazine focuses on themes – seeking to increase mutual understanding by illustrating the similarities between religions and their distinct differences. The theme of light in issue 3 illustrated this and Heather gave us examples: –

– Mahmood Chandia (Lancashire Council of Mosques) wrote explaining that the word for light in the Quran is ‘nur’, describing God as the light of heaven and the earth (not expressing God’s reality, but alluding to the illumination He bestows upon the mind and feelings of all willing to be guided).

– From the Sikh Scriptures – “There is light in all and it’s the same light. With the same light we are all illuminated”.

– For Jains, the light is a symbol of divine knowledge that removes the darkness of ignorance.

– From Barney Leith’s insight into the Baha’i Scriptures: “Every child is potentially the light of the world – and at the same time its darkness; wherefore must the question of education be accounted as of primary importance”.

2.500 copies of Heather’s magazine are circulated to schools, colleges, universities etc., mostly on a gift basis. A true message of Light, Faith & Hope.

More details of Heather’s talk can be found in this download Heather WellsTalk for FiL and more details of her magazine can be found at http://www.faithinitiative.co.uk

Members of Faith in Lancaster then shared their faith experiences: –

– Vijayanti spoke about the Hindu Festival of Light – Deepavali. The message of deepavali is to emulate the lamp, the diya. To purify the ego, like the lamp, in the service of society. For a full explanation please download this Deep-Jyoti

– Robbie explained the Jewish festival of light – Chanukah – an 8-day festival celebrating the miracle that enabled 1 day’s oil to keep the ner tamid (everlasting light) burning for 8 days until fresh oil available. This commemoration of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem involves lighting a special 8-branched menorah (candelabra), one candle per day.

The Jewish festival of lights – Chanukah – commemorates when the Jewish Maccabees overthrew the Greek invaders and re-entered the Temple in Jerusalem.  When they came to rededicate the Temple, they found that the cruse of holy oil to keep the ner tamid (everlasting light) burning only had enough oil to keep the flame alight for one day.  But by a miracle the oil lasted for 8 days, giving time for fresh oil to be pressed and made ready for use.  So we have an 8-day festival, during which we light candles each evening in a special 8-branched menorah (candelabra).  On the first night we light one candle, on the second night two, and so on, until on the final night of the festival we have all 8 candles burning brightly, to commemorate the miracle and the faith of the people in God and the future.  We place the menorah on a window sill or near a doorway, so that the light from the candles can be seen, shared and enjoyed by people passing by in the street.

– Glynis described the light from lamp or candle as central to the Buddhist daily worship as they recite chants at set times of the day, radiating peace and harmony.

“FAITH IS LIGHT, THE HEARTS

Of those with strong faith

Are filled with light.

A radiance envelopes their lives’

People with unshakeable conviction in faith

Enjoy a happiness that is as luminous

As the full moon on a dark night,

As dazzling as the sun on a clear day”.

DAISAKU IKEDA

– Heather B. described the meaning of the Christingle – with an orange depicting the world and a candle inserted in the top to represent Christ as the light of the world. Christingle Services are often held in Christian Churches prior to Christmas. From a Quaker perspective, George Fox, the founder, spoke of the Inward Light of Christ. Readings from Quaker Faith & Practice (1.02 & 2.12) illustrated this:

Quaker Faith & Practice , Advices & Queries 1.02

Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts.  Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.

Quaker Faith & Practice, Silent Waiting 2.12

In silence which is active, the Inner Light begins to glow – a tiny spark.  For the flame to be kindled and to glow, subtle argument and the clamour of our emotions must be stilled.  It is by an attention full of love that we enable the Inner Light to blaze and illuminate our dwelling and to make of our whole being a source from which this Light may shine out.

All present lit the candles in the shape of FiL (Faith in Lancaster), some being lit for absent members. As our faith-sharing became more informal, we enjoyed the vegetarian refreshments prepared and concluded the evening in a social gathering.