In June I was in Washington DC at the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism participating in a Jewish-Evangelical Dialogue that gathered thirty-five people for a two day discussion. Our discussion points centered around: civility, the land of Israel, social justice, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It was an intense time. I walked away from this experience with a lot of questions and some sense of uneasiness. I have spent a good amount of time since the event trying to sort through my feelings.
So here are a few things I learned:
- we grow and stretch when we are in the room with others and seek to listen and understand
- the topics we discussed are tough subjects–and very worthy of conversation as difficult as it might be
- it is good to practice convicted civility: to be people of strong convictions who are civil and humble towards others
- we do not need to settle for a bland generic faith, but rather we should celebrate our own faith with enthusiasm and conviction
- we approach issues from a variety of standpoints–we need to listen hard to understand the faith perspective of another, and we will never totally understand that other understanding
- while we are people of conviction–it is also good to practice a discipline of silence. Evangelicals who bring a sometimes damaging history to the discussion must discern when to simply be present, to listen, to share ideas when asked (Jay Phelan)
- how identity of a faith community is shaped, nurtured and guarded is an important factor
- there is not one evangelical viewpoint and there is not one Jewish viewpoint
- I realize how much I still have to learn about Judaism and Jews
- it is difficult to speak prophetically, but it is best to speak prophetically and to share meals together
- the path to peace is a difficult path but well worth the effort
- while we have significant differences, there are also many, many aspects of our faiths that bind us together
- we worship and serve the same God
- we are still learning to trust each other, to speak well and to listen well—and the process is very good and important
- the process should continue.