REV. SUSAN ELLIS OMAHA NORTH SIDE CHRISTIAN CHURCH A large part of what is expected from a minister is pastoral care, which is visiting people in the hospital, nursing home, or sick bed.

Ministers become very adept at maneuvering the many hospital and medical facility corridors.

Once when I was leaving a hospital room, a family member asked to walk out to the parking lot with me. As we reached the end of the first hall, I turned right, and the family member turned left. We both stopped and turned and told the other that they were going the wrong way.

I had come up from the parking structure through the north entrance, took the hospital elevator and walked three different corridors. The family member had come from the parking structure through the east entrance, took the elevator to this floor and walked two corridors. Each of us had arrived at the same room, but we had traveled different paths.

Which path was the right one?

Isn’t it interesting how we believe our way is the right way, whether it is how we reach a destination, do the laundry, prepare chili, or connect with God? There are hundreds of Christian denominations, and as many different religions all seeking a relationship with a greater power we call God. Which way is the right way?

What would happen if we believed that there is no right or wrong way to connect with God, just different?

What would happen if we listened to the words of Confucius who said, “In the world there are many different roads but the destination is the same? There are a hundred deliberations but the result is one.”

What if we believed the writings of Islam,which state: “There are as many ways to God as souls; as many as the breaths of Adam’s sons [and daughters]”?

Would it be blasphemous to incorporate the Hindu belief which states “they who worship other gods with faith, they adore but Me behind those forms; Many are the paths of men, But they all in the end come to Me.” Maybe we could just agree with the Pawnee Native American belief which states “all religions are but stepping-stones back to God.” ...

When we examine the multitude of religions on this planet Earth, there are many similarities, such as the practice of justice, peace, love, mediation, prayer, caring for one another, praise of a higher power, self-worth, striving for a better life or after life, and these religions include the need for community.

What part of our faith and relationship with God would be diminished by allowing for there to be multiple paths to God? ...

We, who choose to follow the teaching of Jesus, know how he surrounded himself with those who were different; those who were excluded; those who were viewed as wrong or less than.

Jesus welcomed the stranger, stood with the oppressed and ate with the undesirables. Jesus taught us relationship, love, acceptance and community. Jesus taught us inclusion, not exclusion. What if we lived our faith in the same way? Not right — not wrong, just different.