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People spread God’s radical love across boundaries

Kahlil said: ‘Coming here centers me in God and in community. 
There is so much consumerism today.  The mosque offers an alternative.’

On the same August Sunday when there was a Patriot Prayer gathering in downtown Seattle, there was also a barbecue at Idriss Mosque on Northgate Way.

By The Rev. Meighan Pritchard, pastor at Prospect UCC in Seattle

One was spewing hate, racism and white supremacy. The other was inviting people to come and join in a meal. I chose the barbecue.

I went through the food line and sat down at one of the many tables set up in a side yard. Soon I was joined by Kahlil, who has attended this mosque for seven years.

I asked Kahlil what he would like me to know about this place.

He said, “Coming here centers me in God and in community. There is so much consumerism today. This place offers an alternative.”

Hmm. I seem to recall saying words to that effect in a few sermons.

Later I met a leader from the mosque. He said society can divide us into separate groups, teach us to hate each other. This barbecue is an offering to the community so that people can come, meet each other and make friends across boundaries.

This is a radical love.

I took a tour from a woman wearing a hijab. She showed us the room for mothers with noisy young children. I’ve seen a number of churches with such rooms.

Another area could be used for special gatherings or overflow if the service upstairs was too crowded. It is like our fellowship hall. There was a kitchen.

There was a room for ablutions, so that people could present themselves clean in body before God.

The main level was where the men gathered for worship and where the imam gave his … sermon? reflection?... on Friday afternoons.

The women gathered on the balcony. During times of questions in worship, women would write their questions on slips of paper and toss them down.

Our tour guide said, “There is no place like the United States. In other countries, if the government makes a rule, that’s just how it is, but here, during the dark days of the travel ban from Muslim countries earlier this year, non-Muslims went out to the airports and said, ‘This is not right. This is not how our country is. Muslims are welcome here.’ That was amazing.

“My children’s schools are finding space for the Muslim kids to say their prayers during the school day. During Ramadan, if the children are fasting, there is a room where they can go during lunchtime so they don’t have to hang out with all that food. In recent months, more people have been intentional about saying hello to me and others wearing the hijab. People are reaching out, being friendly, saying we belong,” the guide said.

Throughout the building and out on the fence, there were handmade posters from various Christian groups. They said things such as, “We love our Muslim neighbors,” “You are welcome here,” and “We stand with you.”

We can be taught to hate people who are different from us. We can also dare to love. I give thanks for this mosque reaching out to the community with something as simple as a barbecue. We are more alike than different, and we have so much to learn from each other.

Let us dare to make friends across boundaries. This is God’s radical love, and we can spread it everywhere.


Pacific Northwest United Church News © September-October 2017


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