Welcome + Worship + Witness

The Rector: Found in Translation

The Rector

Bolton Abbey Parish Magazine

May 2016

Found in Translation

Many of those who visit the Priory leave prayers. These are regularly offered in our public worship, especially at Morning or Evening
Prayer, and are moving testament to the spiritual yearnings that lie deep in so many people. Shortly before Easter I noticed that someone
had left a short prayer in what I recognised to be Arabic. Our daughter, an Arabic speaker, was with us at the time and I asked her
to translate for me. It transpired that the prayer was one commonly offered by Muslims – roughly equivalent to ‘Lord have mercy’.
I confess that my motive for seeking a translation was not altogether honourable: it emanated from a concern that the Arabic might have
been inflammatory or insulting. I confess, equally, to having felt thoroughly ashamed when I discovered that the prayer was not only
sincere, but that it had clearly been offered by a devout Muslim who felt sufficiently at home in a Christian place of worship to leave a
prayer.
When Samuel is sent by God to identify a successor to Saul from among the sons of Jesse he proceeds by means of a sort of male
beauty parade. But God disabuses Samuel of the notion that appropriate kingly qualities are so easily discerned, saying of Jesse’s
eldest son Eliab: Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature …; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on
the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. We too, like Samuel, are often quick to judge by outward appearances, though for
negative reasons rather than positive ones. Rather than allowing a burqa, a beard, or even some Arabic script make us jump to hasty
conclusions, let us ask God for the grace and wisdom to see and to welcome others as we would wish to be seen and welcomed
ourselves.

With good wishes to you all,

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