This headline is taken from a skit by John Bell that Lauren Bernhofer performed on August 12th in a staged sermon interruption (seeÂ picture). Dressed with a Muslim head scarf, Lauren brought to us that day the voice of Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, Abrahamâ€™s firstborn son. It was a reminder how closely related Jews, Christians and Muslims really are, and that we could have had Hagar as ancestor just as easily as Sarah, Abrahamâ€™s wife.
Yet this was not all that made Sunday, August 12th, interesting. The childrenâ€™s sermon was different, too, as our children, led by Lillie and Allison, performed a rap that celebrated Abraham as the father of three religions, the People of the Book. The verses below may give you a hint of what happens when an old-country pastor becomes infected by hip-hop culture:
But old Abe thought it was funny
When God showed him all the stars
And said theyâ€™re more than Jersey cars.
â€œAnd thatâ€™s the number of your kids.
Now count them, man of wits!â€
And so I got my Jewish brother,
And Fatima her Muslim mother.
And that is all I have to say
On Abraham, the real cool dude.
God talked to him and was not rude.
It was no coincidence, then, that eighteen of us attended a friendship dinner at the Interfaith Dialog Center of our Turkish friends in Piscataway in the evening of the same day. We shared a lavish meal, had a remarkable slide show introducing us to Turkey and its history, and exchanged beautiful gifts with one another. Our children repeated the rap singing of the morning and found new friends. We also spent considerable dinner time planning a trip to Turkey which our Muslim friends have offered to our church.
When the day was over, I felt grateful for the many experiences and impressions it had produced. And I realized that, with days like these, First Reformed Church and its friends contribute, in however humble ways, to the establishment of peace between three great religions.