Thinking Out Loud

June 7, 2018

A Ramadan Lesson for Christians

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:00 am

img 060718Guest post by Lorne Anderson

There are two weeks left in the month in which Muslims have a religious obligation to fast during daylight hours. Most of those reading this probably haven’t given that much thought.

When Ramadan falls in December the fast is relatively easy. Not so at this time of year, where there is 15 hours between sunrise and sunset where I live. It’s a total fast – no water allowed either.

It is a spiritual discipline that puts most Christians to shame. Mind you, it comes more from fear than grace. Many Muslims fast more due to social pressures than out of any religious conviction.

What conversations are you having with your Muslim neighbors this month? Have you talked about their fast, or about Christian traditions of fasting, and the differences? Have you shared the love and freedom that Jesus brings? Has your church done anything to reach out to the Muslim community?

I ask this because I was at a fast-breaking event on the first Saturday of Ramadan. It was a community event, families coming together to share a meal. More than that, it was an outreach event But it wasn’t put on by Christians — this was a Muslim outreach..

Members of this particular Muslim community had been told they should invite their non-Muslim friends to share the meal. Looking around the room it seemed to me that most had either not bothered or been unsuccessful. There were obviously very few of us who were not part of the tribe. In that way it reminded me of some church outreach events I have attended – we too aren’t always good at inviting our friends to our events.

Language was an issue, as this is an immigrant community. The woman who invited me is a language school classmate. After four months we have enough German for extremely simple conversations, but have not yet reached the point where we can touch on faith matters. And neither of us speaks the other’s mother tongue.

The organizers though recognized that could be an issue. There was a German-born Muslim who made sure to stop by any table with visitors. He is the one who talked about their community and Ramadan and how they wanted to share with those around them. At least I think that is what he was saying. Certainly he was there to put people at ease, to be the smiling face of Islam. After all, anyone there was probably likely to be somewhat open-minded –  they came because of a relationship they already had with a Muslim. If it wasn’t a positive one, they wouldn’t have come to the meal.

Which got me to thinking. Two things really.

The first is, how well do we do at outreach to those not of our tribe? We have events at Christmas, Easter and other times of the year, but how many personal invitations do we make to non-Christian friends? Few, judging from the events I have attended. I know I probably haven’t done enough. We can’t ever do enough. And how easy is it for someone not of our tribe to just walk through the door?

The second thing is, what are we doing from Ramadan? No, I am not suggesting adopting the fast or emulating Islamic legalism. But Ramadan is more than just fasting, it is a daily cycle of deprivation and celebration, with a huge party at the end of the month.

It is probably too late to organize an end-of-Ramadan outreach event, for this year anyway. But there is nothing to stop you from inviting your Muslim neighbors to join your family for a fast-breaking meal in your home sometime in the next week or so. Yes, that means a late night, you won’t be eating until after nine. And don’t forget the dietary restrictions, so you don’t embarrass yourself and your guests. It is a perfect tie to show Christian hospitality.

Many Muslims are immigrants. They have often been met with fear and suspicion in their new countries. They come from countries where family and community are extremely important – and they may never have been invited into to a family home in their new country. They see this new country as being Christian – and being deficient in hospitality. You can change that perception.

This month is Ramadan. How are you observing it?

Lorne Anderson blogs daily at Random Thoughts from Lorne

1 Comment »

  1. I tried to reach out to a muslim family. I invited the family over for dinner. The funny thing is when they found out that I was a Jewish believer in Messiah the husband would not enter my house.

    Comment by Angie — June 7, 2018 @ 9:03 am

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