Ramadan Mubarak. Happy June. Happy time to get to work.
This past Wednesday evening I attended a Ramadan Iftar Dinner, sponsored by the Muslim Communities of Hampton Roads in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom at VWU and Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, an organization which promotes interfaith understanding and fights prejudice. The dinner began at precisely 8:18 p.m., the end of sunset. Members of the Muslim Communities consumed their first water since sunrise, and ate dates and fruit to celebrate. We were all urged to share in these and then join in a wonderful meal with Afghan and south Asian foods followed by a wonderful collection of sweets to end our iftar. Iftar is the word for a meal that breaks the daylight fast during Ramadan.
Imam Sheikh Ahmad, of the Muslim Community of Tidewater began the evening with a recitation of the holy Quran, singing it from memory. He recited the sura which describes fasting, and it was then translated and interpreted by two other members of the community. They explained that it is traditional to read the entire Quran during the month, about 20 pages a day. They shared a story of one family that read the entire book in two days – 300 pages per day, and kept this pace up all month.
After the fast was broken, the evening prayer was observed, and dinner followed. At our table were Muslims, Baptists, New Thought, and one member of Ohef Sholom. The conversation was wonderful.
The multicultural nature of Hampton Roads has been a blessing. I remember the many members of UCN who showed up when our local masjid on Hampton Blvd when we were invited to a December holiday gathering. And those who showed up for the Virginia Wesleyan University events from One Love to panel discussions on religious diversity. Such hard work, such wonderful celebration. These organizations are a blessing.
Our theme for the last full month in Norfolk is “Kindness.” In addition to Sunday morning services you have a chance to learn about and to do acts of kindness. For example, kindness to the earth. Tonight (Friday) the Environmental Forum will focus on “Water, Our Way of Life” at 7 p.m., at UCN.
And then Saturday morning we help in the area-wide “Clean The Bay” day, at our site, which is the water at Lakewood Park. Paul Greggs is organizing canoes … temps in the 80s, and only a slight chance of a morning thunderstorm. Be ready to reach into the water to help clean up Coastal Virginia. We start at 9 a.m., and should be out before any nasty weather. Contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org for more. Kid friendly!
Can’t canoe? Help us prepare for the move. See below.
Speaking of Kindness, This Sunday I will include a short thank you to the Caring Team. For the past three years I have seen them be the heart of this caring community. They meet monthly talking about those who need care, considering new ways of helping and writing cards. If you have any caring concerns, you can always call our “rotating co-chairs” listed in the newsletters or leave a note in the caring box next to the book of life.
I am available for pastoral care by phone or in person, usually by appointment.
This Sunday’s service title comes from a song by Jewel, a singer who started in a yodeling combo, but then did folk, dance, and country. She wrote the song “Hands” in 1998, during her singer-songwriter days.
https://youtu.be/1rGlqV79xFA I will be reflecting on the line “In the end, only kindness matters.” Come hear the choir!
Ramadan Mubarak (Blessed Ramadan.) Blessed June. In Kindness,