The greatest gift we have to offer one another is not that which we share in common but that which honors the other person while offering what they do not already possess. In this pluralistic society we have much to offer and to receive from others. When we believe that others have nothing to offer us we become stuck. This can lead any discussion to becoming a monologue where we try to convert, convince or coerce another. When we focus only on that which we share in common, it reduces our faith and the faith of the other person to a set of universal doctrines with no unique value. The challenge then is for each person to show love, respect and cooperation through a genuine interest in the values, hope and dreams of the other person while remaining grounded in their own faith tradition and not feeling threatened. We learn when we believe that those who may believe differently than we do have truth and goodness in their convictions.
During Lent we had the wonderful opportunity to share our Maundy Thursday/Seder meal with friends from the Turkish Raindrop House. We renewed old acquaintances and formed new ones. They in turn have invited us to share in their experience of Ramadan Iftar. Here is what Memhet shared about Ramadan in his invitation:
“Ramadan is the holiest of the 12 months in Islam during which Muslims fast. Fasting starts [at] dawn and ends at sunset during which time Muslims refrain from eating, drinking (including water) and intimacy. The fast is broken at sunset with a dinner called “iftar” where family and friends gather. [We] get to invite all [our] friends and family or strangers to share dinner over the duration of the month.”
The Education Committee has embraced this invitation and feels the best way to offer this experience to the greatest number of people is to share on two separate evenings. During the first iftar together, we have offered to cook and host them at Laurel Heights. This would be Sunday, June 19th. It is often easier to experience something new and different in your own comfortable surroundings. The next week, June 26th, we have been invited to join them at their place of worship, The Turkish Raindrop House, 4337 Vance Jackson Rd., Suite 203. Both events will follow basically the same schedule:
7.30 pm Arrival and Mingle
7.45 pm Welcome
8.00 pm Prayer Area Tour
8.20 pm Ramadan Presentation
8.35 pm Iftar (Fast-Breaking Dinner)
9.00 pm Closing
I invite you to be in prayer about this. Should you believe there is value in learning to love one another. I suggest checking with your doctor about following a similar fast on the days we will join together for iftar. You can look up the times for sunrise and sunset on the Internet. You may be more comfortable or, your doctor may suggest following a fast similar to the one John Wesley followed and skip two of the three meals that day. There is no requirement to fast. The only expectation is that you come looking for truth, value and goodness in yourself and others.
See you Sunday,