“Waheguru” – God is Great and Wonderful
Upon entering the Sikh temple for the Plainview/Old Bethpage Interfaith Thanksgiving service, Fr. Isaias and I immediately felt the warm welcome and peace that dwells in the beautiful and spacious place. The hall quickly filled with people from different faith communities, and temple members generously served us very tasty Pashad, which is their food offering (holy food).
The head priest began the celebration with a chant called “Waheguru,” which is a Punjabi term meaning “God is great and wonderful.” The inclusive congregation joined in the chanting.
The liturgy included prayers of thanksgiving from the Holy Bible, the Q’uran, Hebrew scriptures, Guru Garanth (Sikh’s holy book) and other sources. It was beautifully prepared and all clergy from different churches, mosques and synagogues took part in leading the worship, singing and prayers. All parts of the liturgy were projected on the screens and the combined congregation actively participated.
The Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK youth choir sang the beautiful Swahili song “We are marching in the Light of God.”
A prayer for peace was offered: “Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sikhs and all people of faith remember that what brings us together is our common humanity and equality before God … give to us understanding that puts an end to strife, mercy that quenches hatred, and forgiveness that overcomes vengeance. Empower all people to live by Your law of Love.”
Another prayer that specially touched my heart was, “We thank You, dear God, for showing us how to return our thanks by living lives of service, by genuine deeds of hospitality, by extending kindness to the stranger and by our showing of concern for each other … Use us to make You visible and known to others in countless ways so that Your great love for us be mirrored in our love for one another.”
All participants then enjoyed a sumptuous feast lovingly prepared by the Sikh temple members and fellowship with one another. My heart is filled with gratitude for the blessing of being part of the Interfaith Thanksgiving celebration this year and I pray that more of us at St. Margaret’s will be able to join in the coming years.
~ Christie G.