Today I had the opportunity and invitation to join my Muslim sisters and brothers in prayer.
I attended the noon Friday prayer known as Juma at the Islamic Center of Reading.
An invitation was extended to my Lutheran brothers and sisters as an opportunity to to be present in support and solidarity. We were invited and many of us attended to show support and presence for Muslims in our community as they worship, specifically in light of the recent orders signed by the president.
First of all, this was my first experience attending a prayer service in a Mosque. They knew guests would be present and the members were beyond hospitable in welcoming us into their prayer space. We were welcomed into their space with care and compassion, with smiles and warmth, with gratitude for our presence.
We heard a reading from the Qur'an and the Imam shared a message with all who were gathered. It was a message that encouraged us to remember who we are as people of faith. While the Imam was specifically talking about what it looks like to live as a Muslim. He said that it is our actions that show our faith. It's not our prayer stance or prayer actions, but the actions we take part in every day. I heard similar themes to the ones I hear in our weekly worship service: care for others, giving to those in need, showing compassion.
As we bowed in prayer, I was thankful for this experience.
I was thankful for the invitation, for the warm welcome and for the opportunity to ask questions when the service was over.
I was also bothered. I was sad. I am saddened and angered. Sweeping statements about entire groups of faith are not true or fair and they cause more fear than anything else.
I continue to pray that as a follower of Christ I am able to do the following things:
I hope that my actions will provide open spaces for people to talk about their faith similarities and differences. I hope that my words will invite conversation and deeper understanding of my own faith and the faith and faith practices of others.
I hope that as a leader in a faith community that I model support and care for my brothers and sisters of other faiths. I hope that I am able to learn more about not just our differences but our similarities.
I heard about our similarities today at Juma. Our call to care for our neighbor, to reach out to those in need. How we do that shows our faith to the world.
As we live out our faith does it show care and compassion for all of God's creation?
As I live out my faith do I show care for my neighbor? Compassion for those in need? A place of solace and safety for those who are treated unjustly? Ears to listen to those whose life journey and experience is different than my own? A realization of the privilege I have and how that impacts how I share my faith and how I care for others?
Many, many questions that will remain in my heart and my mind as time continues to pass.
More reflections to come . . .
Good and gracious God,
Thank you for the gift of this day. Thank you for moments of peace and prayer and community and safe spaces for them all. Be present in our world. Guide our leaders to words and acts of justice and peace. Provide space and comfort for those who wish to worship and respond to their faith in word and deed. I pray for my Muslim brothers and sisters, for those able to pray in their local Mosque today and for those who prayed at home. Thank you for their hospitality and care. Guide my heart, mind and words to share the depth of this experience with others. In Jesus' name, amen.