Tag Archives: Muslim Community Center

Empowering Voices—in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, November 20, 2016

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Empowering Voices—in Prayer

I live in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural suburb of Chicago. I work in another multi-ethnic, multi-cultural suburb of Chicago. I have been involved with prayer activities for years, and have more recently added peace-building activities to what I have to offer. So—I was honored to be asked to speak at a panel discussion at the Muslim Community Center in the suburb where I work. That discussion took place earlier this evening, and involved six diverse panelists, and was called “Empowering Diverse Voices.”

What was the primary purpose of this event? Diverse groups of people wanted to come together. Many wanted to collaborate with other minorities that have felt marginalized during this polarizing election process. And—there was a diverse panel, indeed! African-American, Latina, Jewish, Christian and Muslim speakers to discuss how the different segments of communities can stand together against hate to promote harmony, peace and love for all.

I spoke from a Christian viewpoint, and brought my particular understanding as a trained chaplain into the forum. Fear—anxiety—running rampant. Emotions on high, with documented instances of bullying, intimidation, fear-mongering and hate speech spiking hugely since the election earlier this month. (Nationwide, as many instances in the past two weeks as there were in the previous six months.) I spoke peace into this uncertain time, highlighting the many passages in the Bible where God—Ha Shem—the Higher Power tells us “be not afraid!”

Several panelists expressed the hope that participation would bring diverse segments of our communities closer. What one person very much wished was to be sure of a caring environment, a respectful workplace and engaged community. We all want this, where all of our children can learn together and not be bullied or intimidated, and where all of us can live as people who love what this country was founded upon and still stands for.

I was asked for an action step. I thought of how Jesus told us to pray for those who persecute us. Accordingly, I suggested a monthly time of ecumenical prayer for our leaders, communities, and for those we disagree with, starting in December. The second Monday of each month, for six months. Joining together in mutual support and prayer, I will open the church I serve, St. Luke’s Church at 9233 Shermer in Morton Grove, from 7 to 8 pm.

Our first gathering will be on Monday, December 12, 2016. It will be a time for meditation, prayer, and sharing for mutual support. May God richly bless this gathering together for prayer. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Peace and Social Justice, Part Two

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 15, 2016

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Peace and Social Justice, Part Two

Yesterday evening’s panel discussion at the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove was a wonderful opportunity to gather together and share insights into different faith streams. Yet, five similar viewpoints on Social Justice. How each of these faith streams—forms of spirituality—religions—has an impact on society and the outworking of kindness, mercy and justice.

As someone invited to be the representative of the Christian point of view, I had specific understandings of Social Justice (from my faith stream). I was fascinated to see how much overlap there was between all five forms of spirituality.

This goes to show how much diverse people of different ethnicities, various cultures, and widely scattered nationalities all around the world have so much in common. All faiths seek to better society, whether in small ways or large, whether dealing with one person or many.

I do not mean to be political. Jesus did His best to steer clear of politics. I really strive to follow His excellent example. I quote from my remarks made yesterday. “Different rabbis or teachers had different opinions on what was the greatest of all commands. Some of these teachers wanted to know what Jesus considered the “most important” of the laws in the Mosaic law code, which was (and is) the official Jewish rule book.

“In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 12, Jesus does not name one of the “big 10,” the Ten Commandments. Instead, He responds with the Shema. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” from Deuteronomy 6:5-6.

“Jesus does not stop there! No, He makes another definitive statement. “31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Did you follow that? Jesus made “the greatest command” into a two-part command.

“Love God, love others. Two sides of the same coin.

“’When we hear these words, we know that we are close to the center of Christianity, that we are close to the heart of God. The cross of Christ, the most important symbol of the Christian faith, has two dimensions: a vertical love to God and a horizontal love towards our neighbors.” [1]

“The simplicity, truth and wisdom of love is at the heart of the Good News of God, the message of Social Justice. Think about it. If we truly love, what else is necessary?”

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] ·  “The Hinge, The Two Great Commandments,” Gospel Analysis, Sermons from Seattle, Pastor Edward F. Markquart, Grace Lutheran Church, Seattle, Washington.

Peace and Social Justice

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, June 14, 2016

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Peace and Social Justice

Tonight was the panel on Social Justice as a foundation to faith streams. The panel was hosted by the Muslim Community Center. I was the Christian representative on the panel, and we all shared on what was each religion’s view of social justice.

But first, we all had several moments of silence for all those who died and were injured in the shooting in Orlando. And all the relatives and loved ones.

The audience was diverse and appreciative. We shared expressions of peace. And then, we delved more deeply into social justice. Expressions of why the Eternal requires us to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

The Mayor closed the evening with reflections, and a call to walk together. To pursue peace. Our suburb is so diverse, and we all are encouraged to reach out to one another.

Thank God for gatherings of friendly people, people who are open and want to try to understand more about other faith traditions. God willing, may we live in peace, harmony, and friendship.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

PEACE is Harmony—Pass It On!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April15, 2016

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PEACE is Harmony—Pass It On!

Today was Friday, April 15. Today was the day of the Peace Breakfast for the Chicago suburbs of Morton Grove and Niles.

Fifteen people attended this breakfast, which was primarily an opportunity for fellowship and conversation among the diverse religious leaders and local government representatives from both communities. This whole area is so culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse that I initiated a Peace Breakfast to bring people together. And, continue the conversation about peace and harmony.

I consider it so fitting that I highlight another personal definition of PEACE from the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove today. (Thank you, Dilnaz, for your kind invitation to come and talk with people at the MCC!)

Sabah Khan’s personal definition: “PEACE is harmony—which I can pass on to the rest of the humanity. (one at a time, to each individual)”  

Sabah’s definition is so much a part of what I was striving to do today with the Peace Breakfast. As Sabah wrote this down, almost two weeks ago, I had no idea this definition would come up today.

What a wonderful reminder for me—for all of us—that PEACE does start with me. And with you. With each one of us, passing peace, harmony and friendship one at a time, to each individual. When someone trips or falls, offer them a hand up. If some stranger on the street needs a break, why not consider extending your hand?

Gracious, merciful God, open my eyes and let me see opportunities to promote peace and harmony. Help me—help all of us—to pass it on. In Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

(Thanks to everyone at the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove, for making this week of personal definitions of PEACE possible.)

PEACE: Forgiveness and Equality

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April14, 2016

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PEACE: Forgiveness and Equality

Today, I am sharing two more special personal definitions of PEACE. These definitions came from an opportunity to visit the Muslim Community Center some days ago.

The president of the Sunday school reminded the gathered crowd that I was there to ask the simple question “What is PEACE, to you?”

I did not get a chance to talk with each person who made out a definition. I feel so sad, because I very much wish I could have spoken with both of these people. Both definitions are thought provoking, and I would have liked to find out more about each one.

Maryam’s personal definition: “PEACE is forgiveness.”

Rohail’s personal definition: “PEACE is equality.”

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Both of these descriptions caused me to think deeply. Our country seems filled with animosity, anger, fighting—and in need of PEACE. In need of equality, too.

The lack of PEACE and equality concern many people today. I have heard from a number of people that these insidious attitudes have heightened fear, anxiety, and defensiveness for many. I think a large part of the answer comes from definitions like these—this positive point of view about PEACE.

What we can do about it? What action can we take? Thank goodness a number of individuals have ideas about how to lessen the anxiety between people. We can go one step further, and practice forgiveness. And, practice treating people equally—and equitably. Then, instead of anger and resentment because of unforgiveness and unequal treatment, we can spread harmony and positive feelings.

Gracious, merciful God, thank You for providing hopeful answers and positive change. Help all of us to act in ways that promote forgiveness and equality. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

(Thanks to everyone at the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove, for making this week of personal definitions of PEACE possible.)

PEACE is Living in Harmony

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, April 13, 2016

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PEACE is Living in Harmony

Today is another day for me to share some special personal definitions of PEACE. These definitions came from an opportunity to visit the Muslim Community Center some days ago.

The president of the Sunday school reminded the gathered crowd that I was there to ask the simple question “What is PEACE, to you?”

The two definitions are very similar. I love them both. Two young ladies shared them with me, and I was so pleased they came up to the table and wrote down their points of view.

Fara’s personal definition: “PEACE is having harmony with yourself.”

Furzana’s personal definition: “PEACE is living in harmony with one another and with other creations, too.”

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What marvelous definitions!

Harmony is such a foundation for peaceful living. I think harmony is promoted when individuals of various races, cultures, and religious expressions come together. It doesn’t matter whether the harmony is inwardly directed (as in Fara’s definition) or is directed outwardly (as in Furzana’s definition). What counts is that division is lessened, and animosity is healed.

Gracious and merciful God, thank You for loving Your whole creation—which includes people of every nation, tribe and language. Teach us to love one another as You do. In the powerful name of God we pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

(Thanks to everyone at the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove, for making this week of personal definitions of PEACE possible.)

PEACE: How You Want to be Treated

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April12, 2016

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PEACE: Treating Others How You Want to be Treated

Another day of listing some special personal definitions of PEACE. These definitions came from my invitation to visit the Muslim Community Center last Sunday afternoon. This was after a lecture. The president of the Sunday school reminded the gathered crowd that I was there to ask the simple question “What is PEACE, to you?”

I am featuring one definition first, but it is unidentified. I did not have an opportunity to speak to each and every person, because so many people gathered around the table where I stood. Several people wrote heartfelt definitions, and left without speaking to me. (It is still an excellent definition!)

A personal definition: “PEACE is when there is a presence in the heart and mind.”

The second definition comes from the daughter of a woman who attended the lecture. The young girl was particularly articulate and earnest.

Ashna’s personal definition: “PEACE is treating others how you want to be treated.”

I thought this was a wonderful definition, especially coming from one so young. I asked Ashna a follow up question, for more information. She responded, “If you’re nice to people they can be nice to others. And, then, to others after that. It can continue.” I nodded, and mentioned that her definition just kept going and going. Ashna nodded again, and smiled her shy smile.

Both of these points of view are so applicable. The first is internal, talking about an inner peace. The second is a mix of both—internal and external.

Gracious and merciful God, thank You for such a variety of definitions! And, thank You for giving people such creativity.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

(Thanks to everyone at the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove, for making this week of personal definitions of PEACE possible.)