“I’m going to do something weird,” Malak whispers to Katie, her bunkmate for our six-day interfaith immersion trip to Chicago. Malak slips into her cotton prayer robe, its royal blue flower print covers her head, her arms to her wrists, and hangs to her feet. She begins her prayers, facing Mecca, alternating positions of standing and then prostrating herself with her forehead to the floor while silently praying in Arabic. When she finishes, Katie, a Christian, intentionally takes a moment to say, “I don’t think it’s weird, Malak. I think it’s beautiful.”
I wasn’t sure what would come of this interfaith immersion trip.
A few years ago I started to get a lot of affirmation for my preaching. People were listening, worship attendance was growing, and I was overhearing parishioners describe me as a good preacher. Soon this shaped my pastoral identity and led me to claim preaching as my “thing.”
This prompted me to attend a large preaching conference, to learn from the best in my field.
The grandson’s voice was hesitant on the phone. He was calling on behalf of his grandmother, who expected her preacher husband to be buried in the quiet cemetery behind the first church he had served decades ago. I was the pastor now.