Jun 1, 2017

Dear friends,Well, I thought I was going to take a little break from these notes… however on Monday, I had the opportunity to give an interview about our community’s recent involvement with the Islamic Center of Lake Travis.  During Ramadan, Muslims’ holiest month, the reporter wanted to hear more about how our local faith communities rallied together when the mosque in Lakeway was burned down.

As I answered the reporter’s (many) questions, our message from last Sunday popped into my head.  Recall Jesus prays, “Holy God, protect them, so that they may be one, as we are one.” We talked about oneness not as uniformity, but as radical acceptance and love in our differences. And I thought, Wow God, we really are connected with one another. Our stories are so closely intertwined.  As God’s beloveds, we are grounded first and foremost in love.  And because of this, when one of us in not well, none of us are well.

When the mosque burned down in January, it broke our hearts. But then in response, hundreds of us gathered together to say – your burden is our burden; your loss is our loss. And from that, God brought about new life through new relationships that continue to form.  I’m happy to say the faith communities in our neighborhood, including the ICLT, are joining together to form an interfaith group with the mission of meeting the needs in our local community.  It’s exciting work!

One way we can love our neighbors and join our stories is to learn more about those who are different from us. To that end, I’ve done some research about Ramadan that I thought I would share with you all.  Here are 5 fun facts:

  1. Ramadan is the holy month of fasting, spiritual reflection, and prayer for Muslims. It is believed to be the month in which the Prophet Muhammad revealed the holy book, the Quran, to Muslims.
  2. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset.  The fast is intended to remind Muslims of the suffering of those less fortunate and bring believers closer to God.  During the month, Muslims also abstain from habits such as smoking, caffeine, and gossip.
  3. Muslims are not supposed to avoid work or school or any other normal duties during their fast. They go about their daily business as we normally would, despite not being able to eat or drink anything the whole day.
  4. To mark the end of Ramadan, a 3-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr brings families and friends together in early morning prayers followed by picnics, feasts, and fun.
  5. If you would want to wish your Muslim friends a happy Ramadan, the standard greetings are “Ramadan kareem” (which means “have a generous Ramadan”) or “Ramadan mubarack” (which means “have a blessed Ramadan”). Even something as simple as learning one of these expressions goes a long way to make our Muslim friends feel comfortable and welcome.

And now, I really am taking a break.(Although I do reserve the right to jump in with a thought or two.)  Until then….

Salaam, Shalom, and Peace be with you all,
Pastor Laura