Our Christian congregation has been in relationship with our Muslim brothers and sisters at the Mosque for some time. But now there are new reasons to come together in solidarity. The current atmosphere of fear and suspicion requires renewed efforts at unity and solidarity.
We were just invited to evening prayer and a light supper at the Mosque and a number of us – men and women – attended. Our conversations spanned everything from shared common living to distinctive practices to the impact of current politics.
In my small after dinner discussion group there were two doctors and a business owner. They have raised their families in the United States. But the shock waves of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy proposals have affected them and their children in challenging ways.
One child psychiatrist who taught at the medical school for decades is now working with an agency to equip ELL teachers (English Language Learners) with skills to work with children who are traumatized. They are at risk because many of them come from countries of origin embroiled in war and conflict. These children often witnessed the unbelievable. Now the fear of deportation – even if they are legal – hovers over them. It is a time of great insecurity.
In our conversations we spoke of how important it is for different faith communities to stay connected and evidence unity and solidarity, especially in a time in which people are being divided and turned against one another by fear. We need to find ways to give witness to the opposite.
We will be returning the hospitality of our Muslim friends by inviting them to dinner at our church in the near future. Our women and the women of the Mosque are planning some lunches out in public places. There is talk of maturing our relationship into some progressive dinners hosted in our homes.
This is a time in which Christians are called to practice an uneasy faith and swim against the cultural current. Isn’t it Jesus who always reached out to the stranger, the other, the one society banished to sidelines? Of course it was.