Holiday tradition brings faiths together

CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA — The 21st annual
San Dieguito Interfaith Ministerial Association’s Thanksgiving Eve service celebrated the “Golden Rule” as practiced in many faiths. Despite the hardships faced by so many, religious leaders encouraged the crowd to be thankful in the face of loss.
Rabbi David Frank of Temple Solel said that congregations and faith served as a conduit of hope in difficult times. “Life is a narrow bridge,” he told the audience, “do not be afraid.” He relayed his experience of counseling congregants on the edge of despair. “It’s not easy to see grown men and women streaming tears in desperation,” he said.
Yet, there is hope in the darkness he said. Through the generosity of donors, Frank was able to pay the expenses that threatened to financially crush some of his congregants who have suffered during the economic downturn. “I never knew what it was like to be the hands of God in this world, a conduit of generosity of others,” he said.
Some attendees could relate to the message of remaining thankful in times of loss. “This has been a very hard year financially for our family and many of our friends,” said Cheryl Slidell of Carlsbad. “There is something comforting about knowing that you aren’t the only one who is dealing with your whole life being turned upside down,” she said. Slidell’s husband, Sam, agreed. “We’ve been able to reflect a lot and understand how much stock we put into our material things,” he said. “A service like this reminds you how much you have, how thankful we are just to be alive.”
Reverend Laura Ziehl of Bethlehem Lutheran Church gave the audience a hopeful message. “Blessing is the capacity to know joy in the hard times,” she said. “Blessing is the gift to bless others.” She urged attendees to “give yourself away for others.”
The Seaside Center for Spiritual Living hosted the standing-room-only event on Nov. 25. In keeping with tradition, pie was served afterward.
The audience was filled with religious leaders representing Christianity, New Thought, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Self-Realization Fellowship, Baha’i, Hinduism and Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. Several read their faith’s version of the “Golden Rule” to the audience.
“It is really amazing to have all of these people of different religions and backgrounds together for one purpose,” John Fullerton said. The Oceanside resident said he doesn’t prescribe to any particular religion. “I bring my family to experience the traditions of all faiths on a holiday that is common to us all,” he said.
Mayor Maggie Houlihan recited President Barack Obama’s official Thanksgiving Proclamation. She lauded the association’s efforts to work together to better the community as a whole.
The Community Resource Center was the recipient of the offering collection during the service. The organization’s executive director, Laurin Pause, said the gathering was a special time of the year when people of various faiths come together for a common purpose. “This is why we’re all here, to help other people,” she said.

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