Two things: Last night I attended an interfaith iftar, a breaking of the Ramadan fast shared with Muslims and people of good faith, at the Muslim Educational Center here in Tigard. Ramadan is the annual month of fasting from sunrise to sunset observed by all Muslims who are able. For years now, MET has hosted these evenings in an effort to build relationships between people of all faith -- and no faith -- backgrounds.
Last night, as I visited with friends and new acquaintances I was reminded of the importance of meeting people who are different than I am, some of them the sort of people I’d classify as strangers and, sometimes, avoid. Meeting strangers is essential if we are to salvage civil dialogue in our lives and live up to the demands of our respective religions. But I know that it often requires us to make a decision to approach strangers, exchange names and chat -- let alone have a deeply significant conversation. Please think about trying it today -- at your house of worship, at the grocery store, on the golf course, at the library. It takes practice to create a practice.
The other thing: This morning I read another sermon from Ellen Davis’ book. She writes about how, in the gospel of Luke, whenever Jesus is eating, revelation happens. When he eats with sinners, revelation is on the menu. When he eats with religious leaders, revelation is the main course. Even when he shows up after the resurrection, the moment of revelation comes when he asks his startled disciples, “Do you have anything to eat?"
Davis is much more eloquent as she explains it, but at some level we all know that sharing food with other people can open us up to each other. And when it does, revelation occurs. When the Institute for Christian Muslim Understanding meets, there’s always a potluck supper involved. Sometimes, that irritates me as I scramble to prepare a dish to share, but in the midst of eating together, I realize why it’s so important.
Today I’m thinking about the intersection of meeting and eating. Next year, I’ll do more to publicize MET’s interfaith iftar, where we can all practice together.