Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This day

(Read Zechariah 3:1-10)

On this day, I'll be trying to get a few more things marked off "The List." I got one of Teddy's presents yesterday, discovered another one we hope to get him; I finally got our tree (of course, it is not up yet!); I have three different meetings; and I am trying to get three different bulletins into some sort of shape.

On this day, the Muslims in our community (and around the world) will be marking the end of the pilgrimage (the hajj) to Mecca, with prayers, reflection, and the celebration of their faith. For today is Eid al-Adha, the "feast of sacrifice," the major holy day of the Muslim faith. So today, Muslims will hold prayers, as well as community dinners.

Eid celebrates the story of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his only son, when commanded by God. Considered a prophet in the Muslim faith, Abraham is a main figure in Judaism and Christianity, as well. Indeed, these three major religions, which often are at odds with one another, are united in their belief of the central role Abraham plays in the faith development of all three.

While we Christians, and the Jews, tell the story in such a way that Abraham is willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac, the Muslim tradition believe the boy was his son, Ishmael. But however we tell the story, the emphasis is on the willingness to be obedient to God's call on one's life, even if asked to give up what might be most precious to us. Certainly one of the 'themes' of our Christmas story is God's willingness to give the divine Child, the One so precious to God.

One of the ways Muslims observe this day honoring Abraham's sacrifice is to donate food, to the poor. Some of the Muslim families here in Cincinnati will be helping to feed folks in one of the chronic poverty neighborhoods; others will send assistance to families in Bosnia, Iraq, and other communities throughout the world.

On this day, I am reminded by my Muslim siblings in our mutual faith in the one God, that part of my way of celebrating this season needs to be acts of sacrifice. Not just giving up some time to go caroling, but giving up time to work in a soup kitchen; not just giving up hard earned money for gifts, but giving so that others might be blessed; not just filling myself with all those good things I enjoy, but sharing from the abundance I have so the emptiness of others might be filled.

On this day, we may walk different paths as we seek to find God, but Zechariah tells us that one day, one day (!), we will invite each other to come and celebrate with us the gifts of peace, hope, joy and reconciliation.

Prayer: On this day, and the days to come, help us to celebrate the sacrifice you have made, Glory's Gift, so that we may indeed give more and more of ourselves away to your people and your creation. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

No comments: