whichever myths have inspired it,
no matter how it connects its members
with divine spirit,
whatever its claims,
however it patterns its ritual
or intones its worship;
is an empty shell
if it fails to draw from its adherents
lives of creative generosity.
In the writings of a breakaway group
named for its reluctant founder;
the plethora of commandments
in the Hebrew scriptures
surrender their ground
to a pair.
The carpenter from Nazareth
spoke often of divine agape, the source of all that is good and true.
His listeners were invited
to make their own fruitful responses,
to share the love.
He calls this costly agape stuff
the greatest of fruits,
and enacts it at every opportunity.
Love, along with her precious siblings;
generosity, forgiveness, peace, tears and hope,
provide the means, he assures us,
by which the planet
along with its diverse and wonderful creatures,
will find life.
It would have to be a Muslim.
The one who nobody in the audience liked,
or had any time for.
The one we are suspicious of,
uncertain of how she/he might fit in.
living according to another set of rules;
whose motivations we question.
Praying in different ways,
refusing to eat our foods;
a sometimes guest
who ignores the polite conventions
we have so carefully constructed
over these past centuries.
It would have to be a Muslim,
who, when Jesus tells his story today,
about the one who took a chance
and stopped to help the wounded man,
is made into the neighbour-hero.
The Good Muslim,
who causes us all to gasp,
as she/he is offered
as love’s shining exemplar.