A Word from Our Pastor 2012 July Sharing Meals with Our Turkish Muslim Friends

Sharing Meals with Our Turkish-Muslim Friends

Hello, warm and balmy days of summer. . . I always enjoy summer at BMUC – it’s a time to break the patterns of our busy year, and spend some time at recreation. Think about that word! RE-CREATION! By finding relaxing or “leisure” activities, we are “re-creating” ourselves, giving ourselves opportunities to re-charge our energies, begin anew and be, in a sense, be re-born. . . So, we shouldn’t think of recreation as trivial or distracting, but as life-giving.

One important opportunity for re-creation, that will help us build community, is our relationship with our Turkish Muslim friends at the Pacifica Institute. At BMUC, in our mission, we have committed ourselves to: diligently working for peace and justice – and here is an opportunity to take action on our mission. Members of the Pacifica Institute are inviting us, in small groups (less than 4, kids welcome), to their homes for dinner to celebrate Ramadan. From Wikipedia:

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God. Muslims fast for the sake of God and to offer more prayer than usual. Muslims believe Ramadan to be an auspicious month for the revelations of God to humankind, being the month in which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad.

The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also teaches Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity

Ramadan is also a time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment; this is to establish a link between themselves and God through prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others. Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need. There is also a social aspect involving the preparation of special foods and inviting people for Iftar.

Muslims all around the world will abstain from food and drink, through fasting, from dawn to sunset. At sunset, the family will gather the fast-breaking meal known as Iftar. The meal starts with the eating of three dates — just as Muhammad used to do.

Over time, Iftar has grown into banquet festivals. This is a time of fellowship with families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger spaces at mosques or banquet halls, where a hundred or more may gather at a time.

This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know our Muslim neighbors in a more relaxed and family setting. If you would like to participate, they will be hosting on 7 different nights, July 20, 21, 28, 29 and August 3,4, or 5. You can sign up as individuals or as families (group size limited to 4), and all host families will be within 15 minutes’ drive from Berkeley. Most of the Pacifica Institute people have young families, so bringing kids or grandkids would be great. This is an extraordinary opportunity for children to have a friendly and educational cross-cultural experience: most importantly, we adults can set good examples as we strive to build bridges between people of different faiths.

On July 1, there will be a couple of representatives at church to answer questions, and to help with sign-ups. One of our BMUC core values is: “ We serve our community and the world by extending peace and justice beyond our walls.” In this case, we can take concrete action to be peace-makers by building relationships with people of a different faith community – and thus extend ourselves “beyond our walls.” The walls of separation are there for us to overcome! The Pacifica Institute has generously taken the first step – by reaching out to us. Let’s respond enthusiastically!

Rev. Naomi

P.S. Turkish food is not all that different (in flavors) from Greek or Italian food – they all share the Mediterranean climate, so their herbs, fruits, and veggies are very similar. You can indicate if you have any dietary restrictions.