A Temple Visit

A DIFFERENT BLOG

Today’s blog will be different. So, for your consideration, here is something different.

A HINDU TEMPLE

Recently, while enjoying dinner with friends in their home, our hosts asked if we had seen the Hindu temple. We hadn’t.

So after dinner we made the very short drive to see what’s in the picture below. It was impressive. The grounds were beautiful, the temple was of gleaming marble, and it was all just pretty amazing.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

BAPS Houston Mandir Moods 05f

THE TOUR

We had intended to just look from the car as we slowly drove by, but a sign at the entrance indicated the temple was open for visitors, so we pulled in.

Their tradition:

  • We had to remove our shoes. 
  • Their were two rooms for removing shoes: men’s and women’s. 
  • Entering the temple, I was asked to wear a cover for my legs, as I was in shorts. In their custom, feet and arms can be exposed, even the bare midriff of women in traditional Indian clothing. But not knees and shins.

We were greeted by a man who gently insisted that he provide us a tour. We said sure, maybe 5 or 10 minutes. It was 45 minutes.  

He was informative, friendly, and interesting. His beaming pride in their temple ran deep. We learned that only five of these major Hindu centers exist within the United States: Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Trenton, and Houston. 

FEELING AWKWARD

I felt a bit awkward. I was essentially wearing a skirt and was the only man doing so. But mostly, I was just out of my element. 

Houston_diwali2015_01_005

THEIR BELIEF SYSTEM

Hinduism isn’t easily explained. It’s a faith of consciousness, mediation and prayer. References to God are common, but their belief system allows for many manifestations of him. Formally, Hinduism worships 33 Gods. I couldn’t help thinking about the Apostle Paul in Athens. Remember his reference to the temple of the unknown god, a god for everything and everyone?

 Many of their ancient texts have no recognized authors. There is no identified founder. They firmly believe in reincarnation, in strong family values, and each devotee is free to practice the faith with a wide range of expression.

SOME OBSERVATIONS

  • The people we encountered were sincere, devout, and friendly.
  • They are serious about their beliefs and diligent about their faith.
  • They are proud to have such a magnificent building for worship.

DONT SHOOT ME

Please don’t shoot the messenger, but I saw some similarities.

Like them we are:

  • Sincere, devout and friendly
  • Serious about practicing our faith
  • Proud of our facilities

Although shorts aren’t permitted, they can go barefoot. I’m not sure how I feel about people coming to church bare foot. I probably wouldn’t care. People can wear shorts though.

SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS


As we drove back, my friend, who is our Associate Minister, said to me,

    “We are completely unprepared to talk about Jesus to the people around us.” 

I couldn’t agree more.

What makes us different? I don’t mean doctrine and theology, that’s obvious. How are we  different from any other devout and sincere person of belief?

I’m asking this question:

“If we are worshipers of the one true God and exist as the light of the world, then why aren’t we better at sharing our faith?” 

I’m not even talking about actually converting people, but suggesting that most of us would have no clue how to share Jesus with many of the people of our world.

If someone from one of the world’s religions toured your church building, could you be a friendly, informative, and interesting host? Would you be an effective ambassador for the Christian faith?  

Just a thought. 

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