I have spent a good deal of time the last 14 years hanging out with neo-Pagans of all sorts: Witches, Druids, Shamans, and others. They are my friends. This is not just some kind of engagement of an evangelical sort, but a deeper relationship of real friendships and respect.
As a Christian pastor this has required me to think about the depth of my interaction with other religious traditions.
The Apostle Paul wrote about handling the subject of being offered a meal when the food was offered to idols first. He navigated the tricky decision of remaining faithful to God, and not trying not to offend those who offered the meal. He seems to indicate that he would eat without reservation as long as it did not require allegiance to other gods, or appear to make others believe that he had given his allegiance over to other gods.
This has become my basic line of engagement with other religions. I will participate with them in activities which do not involve crossing a line of allegiance away from Jesus, or to another god or goddess. In this way, I can be involved with people of other religions without changing my own religion. Paul must have had to act this same way many times as he navigated ministry in the Roman Pagan world.
When you are with your friends who are involved with a spiritual path which is very much unlike your own, how do you respond to times when their religion is being practiced? Do you avoid those moments? Get involved? or simply watch from a distance? and where do you draw your lines of engagement?
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Gregg and Jodi, Carlos, Joyce, Mark and Anthea from Cheltenham England, and Jeff from North Carolina were there to help.
The following two days we offered free Dream Interpretation, and a variety of Spiritual Counseling advice and help. Live music was provided on the stage we provide downtown each year.
Jeff estimated the number of people we ministered to on Saturday and Sunday at about 300 people. 14 people - from New York, Pennsylvania, the UK, Carolina, and those of us from Salem were here to reach out to people.
Many of them cried. Some of them expressed their interest in pursuing God more deeply, and many people were thankful for the encounters.
14 people - 300 people in encounters. That's pretty good numbers if we were into counting numbers, but our main interest is individuals being touched by God's gentle love.
3 more weekends to go, and it can only get better, busier and filled with God's grace. Please keep us in your prayers.
If you would like to help support this massive work which is sacrificially being accomplished by a small church in Salem, MA you can do so by donating at www.salemgathering.com