I visited Grace Cathedral in San Francisco this weekend. I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, it's an exceptionally beautiful church. On the other hand, the whole thing being made of concrete has a rather disconcerting effect. On the third hand, during worship on Sunday I developed a new-found appreciation for cruciform worship spaces, especially of such grand scale.
One thing that I had to work through is Grace's pride in being "a house of prayer for all people". I love inclusiveness in Christian worship, but the "interfaith" chapel with symbols from non-Christian religions and the references to welcoming people of other faiths everywhere from the instructions on using the prayer labyrinth to the text of the liturgy was something I needed to think about. (From the eucharistic liturgy: "We break this bread for those who journey the way of the Hindus, for those who follow the path of the Buddha, for our sisters and brothers of Islam, for the Jewish people from whom we come, and for all those who walk the way of faith.")
I've visited Hindu and Buddhist worship spaces, and I don't recall ever seeing any signs welcoming Christians. But after some reflection, I think maybe wherever Hinduism or Buddhism or Islam or whatever are the dominant religion in a pluralistic society, they should make a point of welcoming people of other faiths. They should go above and beyond to release their grasp on God. And so perhaps it is meet for Christians in America to take this step of faith.
Grace Cathedral makes no pretensions of being anything other than Christian. But being followers of Christ, they do not count God as something to be controlled.
In this week's reading from Exodus, the Israelites ask, "Is the Lord among us or not?" How would we know?