Response to Mill Woods Mosaic Editorial

The following was written by Bev Sesink, Associate Pastor of Calvary Community Church as response to Mill Woods Mosaic – Editorial – March 15, 2018 – It Doesn’t Cost Anything To Be Nice:

I would like to respond to your recent editorial, “It Doesn’t Cost Anything To Be Nice” which I fully agree with as it truly doesn’t cost anything to be nice!
It reminds me of the sermon, “How Should We Live In A Pluralistic Society?” which I shared on July 17, 2016 with the congregation of Calvary Community Church.
​In this message I quoted from The Bible, ​Matthew 22:37 to 39 ​in which ​Jesus said:

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.  ​(my highlight) ​ Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT).

And while people of other religions or no religion in particular may​ believe differently on various matters​, if we are to live in some measure harmoniously with other diverse ​individuals and ​groups, I believe we need to love these people, and ​in part by understanding them, just as we ourselves desire to be understood.

​And with that​ in mind, ​I presented a video describing the 5 major world religions. The Five Major World Religions.
​Following that I provided a list of the five most common languages spoken in our Mill Woods community (English – Hello (Generic) – Hindi – Namaste (Hindu), Punjabi – Sat Sri Akal (Sikh),  Tagolog – Kumusta (Filipino Catholic), Arabic – Salaam (Muslim)) asking people to repeat them after me and then encouraged people to begin using these words to greet people if they recognize from which language, cultural, and religious group they may be a part of in our area.​ That of course takes time to be able to do this but with practice I am doing to do this on a regular basis.

And then I encouraged people to be even bolder and try and say the person’s name by looking at their name tag if they have one at the store or wherever. So often it is just a matter of sounding it out phonetically, in other words, the way it is spelled. People have been amazed that I have said their name correctly and I’ve been amazed too as I just made the effort to say their name.

I remember one day at a local store my wife Mandy greeted a woman attempting to say her name. She responded thanking Mandy and mentioning that she had been in Edmonton three months and Mandy was the first person to greet her by name. Three months! I was shocked. How many of us may have gone to a store and hadn’t even thought of doing something as simple as saying the person’s name.

This may sound simple and it is and perhaps even simplistic. But how are we ever going to know other people and know more about them if we don’t step outside of our comfort zone and into theirs?!

Otherwise it will continue to be status quo for many, with a “us” versus “them” mentality, the building and fortifying of walls and barriers of ignorance and misunderstanding.

We need to see others not simply as Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, Catholics, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, or whoever, but rather see them as people, as individuals, uniquely created and loved by God just as we are too.

And when we look at the Bible we see that Jesus did not have a “us” versus “them” mentality, a building and fortifying of walls and barriers of ignorance and misunderstanding.

Rather he reached across, he reached over these obstacles whether they be cultural, religious, gender, or whatever, as demonstrated with his interaction not only with Jews but with Romans and Samaritans too (two groups of people strongly disliked by the Jewish people of that time), not only with males but females too, not only with the rich but also the poor, not only with those well connected but those of little influence, and so on.

In conclusion, let me share the Prayer of St. Francis which is an ongoing inspiration to me. ​
Prayer Of St. Francis  
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.