God, Allah, and Jesus

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A rabbi, an imam, and a CRC chaplain recently came together at Hillside Community Christian Reformed Church in Calgary, Alberta, for a respectful conversation about worship and faith.

“It was a great event for our church, helping us connect with people who might not otherwise ever come to church at all. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience,” said Hillside’s pastor, Rev. Geoff Vandermolen. It became quite clear that worship is different among different faiths. “In the Jewish tradition, Shabbat [is] not so much about gratitude, although I kind of wish it were,” said Rabbi Voss-Altman, “but [is] more about sharing in the communal experience of being Jewish.”

The imam, Dr. R. Bedir, explained that worship for Muslims is “an all-inclusive word for all which God (Allah) loves. We have to be grateful and live all of our life for him. We worship God because we belong to him.”

Rev. Paul Verhoef, a campus chaplain at the University of Calgary, said that worship for Christians is our response to a God who initiated everything. “Our whole lives are worship,” he said. “Sundays are a day to catch on to that rhythm of gratitude and praise.”

Matthew VanderKooy, a Hillside member, said he learned a lot. “I realized that there are definitely attractive parts to all three religions, but that Christianity is the only religion of the three that introduces the concept of redemption and grace.”

Vandermolen agreed. “One of the most incredible parts of the whole event was hearing the gospel story stand on its own over against the spiritual stories of others in the world,” he said. “Highlighting the key differences in an honest way only highlighted the redemptive story of Christ even more.”

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