Not so different after all

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Today is the day before Christmas, a day when many of us will be exchanging gifts with friends and family and coming together.  Today we thought it would be timely to share a few words from Michael Hackbusch, the Chaplaincy Director at House of Friendship about the local faith community, and the many gifts they share with our community each year.

Volunteering is in the heart of many when they wish to express gratitude and are compelled to give back. When volunteering at House of Friendship or seeking employment, you will hear the phrase, “I want to give something back”.

Throughout our recent 12 Days campaign and throughout the Holiday season we have heard from people who seem to agree that the best way to wear our faith on our sleeve is to roll up our sleeves and work together.

I have the privilege to know the many faith communities in the Waterloo Region. I meet with a group called Interfaith Grand River (IGR) –  a group who first met together only two days after 9/11. IGR began and continues to be a group that is intentional about listening and learning, speaking and sharing, and in the process, loving, appreciating and building community.

One of my first learning’s with IGR was that these folks are not so different after all – diverse to be sure, but different, not so much. Although I knew that at the heart of many of the world’s religions was a sense of suppressing the bad and holding up the good, my experience at IGR has been beyond that of learning from a book or study, my experience has been on the level of the human heart and human experience.

At the heart of faith communities is giving back: life, food, a place to call home and a community of common experiences with whom to experience life.

The interfaith community volunteers! Food Hampers receives Halal meat from the Islamic community and volunteers in the warehouse. The Sikh community annually supports with food donations and support of food but also volunteer on a farm to grow produce to give away! Community Centres (often representative of new Canadian/immigrant populations) have a great many people who volunteer building trusting and safe communities. Diversity, experience, love and compassion, these are the qualities that are brought to the fore in the many people who volunteer.

As we pause to rest and spend time with our families this weekend we give thanks for our community, whatever their motivation. Thanks to you all. You bring light and life to our neighbourhoods. You are indeed our neighbours and our friends.

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