Search This Blog

Subscribe By Email

Get Blog Posts Sent by Email

About This Blog

How to Comment on Blog Posts

The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Observe

Here’s one of those words that appears to have a couple of opposite meanings. I’m guessing that many of us (Dare I say “most”? Probably not, that’s dangerous territory) would give a definition related to “watching.” To observe is to see, to look at, to take notice of in a kind of passive way.

Monday was the first day of Ramadan. Muslims around the world will be “observing” Ramadan for the next month. It’s a central element of their faith. And there is nothing passive about it! To observe the fast calls for a major commitment. From sunrise to sunset, faithful Muslims will abstain from food or drink. Any of us who’ve just spent a super-hot long weekend at the beach might have some idea about how difficult that would be.

No matter. To a faithful Muslim the rules don’t change for heat waves. No food and no water during daylight hours brings to their attention the needs of others. They think about their own blessings and they make donations to abolish poverty and end the suffering of those who have need. It is a requirement of Islam. It is something you must do if you would be a faithful observer of the faith.

If you ask what makes someone a Muslim, she will tell you that they pray five times a day, they take care of the sick and the poor, they fast regularly and they “observe Ramadan.” If you ask someone what makes them a Christian, they will likely speak about some of the things they believe. Christians are much more inclined to speak about beliefs than about actions, at least in my observations.

Maybe Christians need a Ramadan--something to shake us out of our notions about “observing” as merely watching. Earliest Christians spoke about their belief in Jesus as “The Way.” Disciples of Jesus tried to live in a way that was different from others around them. No more “just believing” but living in a way that showed they followed Jesus.

If you’ve been around any good campfire this summer you’ve probably sung “They’ll know we are Christians by our love…” If we give it some good thought we’ll realize that “they” won’t know us by the beliefs in our heart, but by the things we do that truly show that love.

We have plenty of scriptures that teach us this lesson:

“Peter do you love me?”
“You know that I love you.”
“Then feed my sheep.”

But we need to be reminded. That’s alright. Muslims need to be reminded too. Every year for an entire month they reflect on the needs of others as they observe Ramadan, abstain from food and drink and make offerings to abolish poverty and end suffering in the world.

How will we observe the teachings of our Master? By watching and believing? Or will we find some sheep to feed?

Posted by Marion

2 comments:

  1. Six or seven years ago, while I was assigned to Graceland University as Campus Minister, we had a very fine group of Community of Christ students who joined our Muslim friends in observing Ramadan. In addition to learning a lot about the practices of Islam, they deepened their relationships with each other and with God. Each evening after sundown, they would gather at the Commons for a meal together to end the day's fast.

    I will always remember how moved the Muslim students were that a group of Christian students wanted to join with them in this way. It was an enriching experience for all of them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was once on assignment with a team in the UN in New York during Ramadan. One of the team members was a young Muslim woman who managed to ignore the whining of several others on the team about the length of time between breaks, the rather poorly air conditioned meeting room (it was August, after all!).

    Everyone was duly chastised when she returned a few minutes late from lunch. She had been serving at a soup kitchen at a neighbourhood mosque.

    No, she did not tell us herself. The supervisor knew where she went as she'd been doing it regularly for several months. It wasn't just a Ramadan thing.

    When all that fuss about the ground zero mosque was in the news, I thought of her. It might have been the same place. She was probably manning her station, ignoring the complaints.

    ReplyDelete