I don't know about you but at an early age, I was exposed to many people who were of different races, nationalities, religions, and political outlook. I always thought of America as a country who tried hard to embrace diversity and gave people a chance to pursue happiness in a safe environment. I was awed the first time I stood before the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of welcome for immigrants and refugees. Its inscription reads: "
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door." What has happened to this welcoming posture?
A recent increase in prejudice, racism, hatred crimes, and general disregard for minorities have me concerned and I wonder what direction this nation is bending toward. As Christians, we have promised to "seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves." Jesus called his disciples to unity, embracing all of God's creation. He gave his life in service to the path of compassion. We are called to do likewise, making our decisions from a place of love, not fear. There is no room in God's kingdom to disrespect the dignity of any human being!
To this end, Compassionate Amador and Trinity Church will sponsor a five-week Lenten Program on "Understanding Islam." There are so many misconceptions about Islam and its followers. Having had personal experiences in Turkey & Egypt, I was touched by the spirituality of the people there. I met many faithful Muslims, kind people who are simply seeking a good life for their families.
The radicals, the fundamentalists, the terrorists make up such a small percentage of the population, yet they are the only images we see on the media. Because of this media slant, we are uninformed of Islam's vibrant culture, scholarship, and religious perspective. By understanding Islam and its people, we will become more equipped to build relationships out of compassion rather than to erect walls from a place of fear. I invite all of you to participate in this Lenten Program in order to learn more about Islam. I hope you will invite your friends and neighbors to attend.
The Lenten Program begins promptly at 6:00pm with a brief soup supper and bread. We are looking for 5-6 pots of soup each week and will eat in Jane's Hall. At 6:30pm, we will clean up and promptly head over to the church building where this year's film & lecture series will be held. Below are the five sessions in more detail:
Lecture & Film: 6:45-8:00pm in the Church Building
Understanding Islam (part 1): Focus on the early history of the faith, its pillars, and comparison to Christianity. (Guest Speaker: Pam Sharp Elshayeb)
Understanding Islam (part 2): Focus on the Middle Ages, its customs, and mysticism. (Guest Speaker: Amel Tafsout)
Understanding Islam (part 3): Focus on Modern times, the Shiite-Sunni Struggle, Fundamentalism.
Understanding the Koran and Islamic theology. (Imam Kamran Islam)
Understanding the political situation in the Middle East; terrorism; Islam in America; Immigration Ban. (Guest Speaker-CAIR: Council on American-Islamic Relations)
Also of interest, will be a Sunday sermon series during Lent addressing confusing and sometimes difficult theological topics for Episcopalians:
March 5-Lent I:
Understanding the Devil & Satan
March 12-Lent II:
Understanding the Uniqueness of Jesus: "Only Son of God"
March 19-Lent III:
Understanding other Religions from a Christian Perspective
March 26-Lent IV:
Understanding the Virginal Conception & other miracles in Scripture
April 2-Lent V:
Understanding Salvation: What does it really mean?
April 9-Palm/Passion Sunday:
Understanding the Passion: A Commentary!
April 16-Easter Sunday:
Lent includes the six weeks leading up to Easter
. During this season, many make an attempt to do some serious self-reflection by undertaking an extra spiritual discipline such as
prayer, meditation, silence, solitude, study, service to others, confession, fasting, simplicity of life, celebration, and worship. I hope you will participate in our "study" of Islam, as well as partake of the many liturgies and opportunities for prayer.
Ash Wednesday Services will be on March 1 @ 12noon (with Holy Communion) and 7pm (with Meditation). Hope to see you there as we begin this Holy Season of Lent.