Posts Tagged With: God

Ramadan, The Perfect Time to Meet Your Muslim Neighbors

We are in the midst of Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims. It is the 9th month in the Muslim Lunar calendar. This is when all able-bodied Muslims will fast from food, drink and other physical needs from sunrise to sunset. It is a time of prayer and purification to become closer to God. The Arabic word for God is Allah. Ramadan marks when the first chapters of the Quran were given to the Prophet Muhammad.

Ramadan is the 4th of 5 Pillars of Islam.  These Pillars define what it means to be a Muslim. Here is a list of the 5 Pillars:

  1. Shahada: faith in the Islam religion,
  2. Salat: pray five times per day facing the direction of Mecca,
  3. Zakat: give support to the needy,
  4. Sawm: fast during Ramadan, and
  5. Hajj: make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during one’s lifetime.

The season of Ramadan is a season of joy and celebration.  It is also a season of generosity and kindness. Although the fasting can be difficult the month is punctuated with celebratory meals after the sun goes down. These are called iftars. They are often celebrated together with families and friends, as well as community events. This is a great opportunity to join an iftar and meet your neighbors.  My husband and I have several days marked on our calendars to join an iftar. Some of these are interfaith events, hosted by a community of Muslims. Some churches are also getting involved and hosting iftars for their Muslim friends and neighbors. This can be a time to build friendships and understanding. Why not check with your local mosque and see if there are any such gatherings that you could join?  Or ask a Muslim friend, co-worker or neighbor if you could join them for an iftar? Be prepared for some delicious food and warm hospitality. You may be eating and staying up later than what is normal for you, but the benefits of making or strengthening existing friendships is worth being a little sleepy the next day.

I have heard stories from some of my immigrant friends who grew up in the middle east how Christian, Muslim, and Jewish neighbors would make food for each other during their holidays. This would be a custom worth reviving in our multi-faith and diverse communities.  Maybe you will be inspired to host an iftar for your friends and neighbors. Just make sure you use halal meat or make a vegetarian meal. Costco carries halal meat as well as neighborhood halal stores. I have 2 in my neighborhood. This is one way to build love and peace in our world so desperately needing it.  One step at a time, right where we live.

 

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Categories: Faith, God, Hospitality, Love, Peace and Reconciliation, Prayer, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What if beauty

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What if beauty

Is God’s shouts of joy over us?

What if the soft breezes on our cheeks

Are whispers of his love?

What if the crashing waves on the shore

Are displays of his passionate strength?

What if all of nature

Is but a part of an unending chorus of praise?

What if I stepped aside, stopped awhile,

Listened to these voices ringing out near and far?

How different would I be

In this world?

Would I do my part to care for and protect

These messengers?

Would I see their vital role

In the life of our planet?

Would I acknowledge the mystery of life woven together

both physically and spiritually?

Would I join the chorus

With my unique song of wonder and love?

 

© 2016 Julie Clark

Categories: beauty, Faith, God, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Enemy Within

Again hate and fear are splashed across the pages of our newspapers, our screens, and our hearts. How is our world continuing to spiral further and further out of control? What will stop this craziness?  It’s not just the terrible violent acts, but also the hateful and fearful aftermath. Fingers are being pointed in all directions.  We really want answers and we want to blame someone other than ourselves and our own communities for these horrific acts of violence.

Here’s how Eugene Peterson translates the words of Jesus in The Message, regarding the final days. Matthew 24:11:  “In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.”

There is a lot of confusion, a lot of voices, deception and spreading of evil. What has happened to the love in our hearts?   Do you know that fear kills love?  More words from The Message this time from 1 John 4:17-18  God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, ….There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear…

For those who want to blame Islam – I want to say this is not Islam, read these words translated from the Qur’an: “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.”(Qur’an, 5:32)

And for those who are asking the question (I have heard it too many times): “Why is the Muslim community not speaking out?”  They are! I hear them! Maybe their voices are not being listened to, or the wrong people are being heard.

For those who fear (as in fear the slippery slope) the LGBTQ community.  These ones are beloved of God! Who does the right to judge and condemn belong to? I remember there is only One Judge and it is not me. This judge is full of mercy – he even loves me, in all my messy brokenness.

The only remedy I understand from the words of my Saviour are “Love one another, this is my command.”  Not just love those who love you, remember? Love your neighbor, love your enemy.  Those following him are supposed to be known by their love, not by their condemnation.

So if the case is that the enemy is not out there but within our own hearts, if truly our love is growing cold, we better hurry and learn how to love again before all that is left is a pile of ashes.

 

Categories: Faith, God, Love, pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Little Child Will Lead You

This poem is dedicated to a little girl, (8 years old) my friends’ daughter, who befriended another little girl, a Muslim child in her class and invited her over to play and have dinner.  Another morning her parents found her boiling an egg to take to school. Her friend was embarrassed about her lunch being so different from everyone else’s lunch. My friends’ little girl noticed she had a boiled egg in her lunch. She decided to boil herself an egg, so her friend would not be embarrassed.  She brings me great encouragement. Peacemakers are being raised up quietly right in our midst. She gets my first chocolate bar.

https://backfromtheborderlands.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/lets-trump-evil-with-good-and-win-a-big-chocolate-bar/

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When darkness gathers as winter settles in

with black clouds surrounding

what little light we have left

Hold tight to the hope in your heart

It is buried deep within

 

Faith, Hope and Love

will not be extinguished

…and the greatest of these is love

It is love which is the greatest

and most powerful of all

not fear, nor revenge, anger or hate

 

Let love ruminate and perfect

through the night, through adverse circumstances

because joy will come in the morning

and when it seems utterly impossible

…let a little child lead you.

 

Categories: beauty, Faith, God, Hope, Hospitality, Life, Love, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Seasons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Belonging

Be. Long.

Longing to

Belong.

Yearning

to be

Home.

To love

and be loved.

Accepted.

Welcomed.

Free to be

planted

nourished

and grow

in this

rich soil.

II.

I belong to God.

He belongs to me.

I belong to this earth.

I am made from it.

The earth belongs to me,

not to exploit but to care for and use as needed.

I belong to heaven.

I have the breath God breathed in me.

Heaven belongs to me.

This breath of God is my down deposit.

© 2015 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catching the Wind

Something new was birthed in me
or maybe a small flicker of flame
caught the wind
I did not plan it or expect it
it just began to grow
from a seed planted
who knows when or where

It is like that sometimes
I mean to go this way
but end up going that way
or something small
becomes something of great importance

I guess that is what it means
to be lead by the breathe
of a Holy Wind
instead of rigid and set
No room to grow and reshape
if the clay becomes hard and dry
No worries if that happens
God has his ways to
soften us up again.

© 2014 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Life, Paths, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healers

They are gifted.

 

Connected creatively

to Creator

in various ways.

 

Using minds,

eyes, ears, hands,

and heart

to bring Loves touch

to the sick,

the hurt,

the traumatized.

 

Thanks be to God

who folded healing

into creation

to be discovered

and used to love

His beloved,

each one of us.

 

Why do we think

our culture’s forms

of healing are the only

or the best?

Fear of the unknown

perhaps.

Grateful to find

unexpected

gifts of healing for

my body and soul.

 

© 2014 Julie Clark

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, Hope, Life, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Invasive Species

The other day I was hacking some ivy back that was trying to take over an azalea plant in my backyard.  Our yard is pretty wild and overgrown.  We have a lot of trees and bushes that I am slowly learning to recognize.  Gardening has not been a huge part of our lives since we have lived most of our adult years in China and Central Asia.  Three quarters of those years were in apartments.  Now here we are back from the borderlands with house and garden.

As I was hacking the ivy, I thought I would take a swipe at this invasive species that has slowly been taking over one area of our yard.  It has been bugging me for a while, but I have mostly ignored it.  Everyone I’ve asked has recommended spraying it.  But since I have a lung condition that is probably environmentally related, and a little dog, and live near the Puget Sound where our run off water runs into, I haven’t done that. So I started pulling up the weeds one by one roots and all.  Bill saw what I was doing and joined the party.  We made a little dent in the problem.  Not major, but a start and if we keep at it we can maybe get rid of most of it and then be inspired to look around at what our next project can be.

So I started thinking, because I am always looking for meaning, messages and metaphors in life.  What if these invasive species represent evil? War, human trafficking, greed, violence, injustice etc, etc.  You name it. What if we just left it to take over? Ignored it? Even got used to it? The world would be a wild place and I don’t mean wild in a good way.

Thank God good people everyday are out there doing good every day keeping evil at bay.  They are fighting inertia and making a difference in families, neighborhoods, cities, countries and the world.

We can be overwhelmed with all the invasive species or we can find our place in the garden and get to work.  Whether it is cooking food for hungry people, making friends with our neighbors near and far, helping children, praying and blessing others, caring for the elderly or disabled, working for peace and reconciliation in the hot spots, or encouraging a friend or stranger.  There are so many ways to honor God with good works.  We all have a part of pushing back the darkness in our day and in our times.

Jesus as always is our example. He wasn’t fretting or frantic over the evil of his day or the evil of all days put together and laid on him.  He had work the Father gave him to do, a job at hand and he steadily did it, until His final hour. He was not overcome by evil but overcame evil with good.

Categories: Faith, God, Hope, Life, Prayer, Sermon Notes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Reel

One person

priceless

connecting to another

 

It’s a gift

and a guard

against loneliness

 

We are fully alive

when connected

three ways

God, another, ourselves

 

We are not made

to live

in isolation

 

A delicate dance

space and solitude

with

community and unity

 

We each have

our own unique steps

still learning my part in the Reel

 

© 2014 Julie Clark

Categories: God, Life, Love, Marriage and Family, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ash Wednesday

The big problem

of pain or illness

is it is constantly

screaming for attention.

It drives me away

from anything else but myself,

pulling me steadily inward.

This is no way to live

or die for that matter.

I want to learn

new strategies

of living and caring

in the midst of it.

 

I have a role model

to study and learn from.

I think of Jesus.

His last days of life

His suffering and agony.

He didn’t go inward

and far away.

He stayed with us.

He instructed his friends

to put away their swords.

He looked at Peter

at the rooster’s third crow.

He had a few words

for Pilate.

A few more for the woman

on the path to the cross.

He took care of his mother.

He forgave his tormentors.

He brought comfort to another dying man.

He looked up.

He gave himself to God.

 

© 2014 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Hope, Lent, Life, Paths, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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