Looking forward to Easter? If you love Jesus (or chocolate) there’s hardly a bigger day. I’d like to throw a wrench in your plans, though. If you don’t want that, now’s a good time to retreat to a tray of Peeps. There’ll be no shame. (Well, unless you eat the whole package!)
If you’re still here, I’d like to tentatively suggest you chew over the possibility of maybe considering perhaps contemplating asking a Muslim family to share Easter Dinner with you. Are you game? (Tweet this)
This is our best holiday. Easter marks a central reality of our faith. It provides a wonderful opportunity to offer hospitality and talk about Jesus. Finally, it’s just a couple weeks away and you can do this.
I don’t know any Muslims. Go to International Students Incorporated, click your state and email the nearest worker. (Alternatively, ask God for a Muslim friend by Memorial Day! Or email me for help.)
I don’t know what to cook. Trade lamb for ham and don’t serve wine. To be super careful, check zabihah.com for the nearest halal grocery. If your food’s from a place like that, it’s cool for most Muslims to eat.
I don’t know what to do? Eat and talk. (Persevere through the awkwardness.) Read the resurrection story together. Hunt for eggs! Everyone loves hunting eggs!
I think they won’t come. Some won’t, but my friend Umar says, “I would graciously accept the invitation and encourage my kids to participate in the egg hunt and other traditions. I would use this opportunity to teach them about the importance of building bridges and making friends with our neighbors. . .”
This could deepen and enrich your Easter celebration. Let me know what you think.
You expect the headlines, maybe even dread them, but still it’s a shock: Four dead in terrorist attack in London. The perpetrator, yes. But also a policeman, a mom picking up her kids and a husband from Utah. Dozens injured and thousands whose lives have been permanently marked.
What do we do? How should we feel? Does either really matter?
The mantra for this email, and increasingly my life, is think like God thinks and love like Jesus does. In Matthew 14 we see Jesus get hammered with the similarly crushing news of his cousin’s murder by the terrorist Herod. What did he think and do?
“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. . . . When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
Jesus headed to the hills. Often when Jesus “got away” it was to pray, to reflect and hang out with the Father. I wonder if maybe to also ask why.
But then the crowds crashed the retreat. Matthew says Jesus had compassion on them, he healed the sick, he fed them. I think we’re safe guessing he also told them some cool stories. Basically he got on with the work of God’s kingdom.
I’m not saying this is the correct, complete response for everyone. It neither erases anger nor eliminates confusion, but it’s not a bad place to start. Get some time to pray. Pour out your heart to the father, the good, the bad and the ugly. (In case that doesn’t just describe my heart!) Then see the crowds and wade in. Heal the sick. Feed the hungry. Tell the stories of Jesus to whoever will slow down for a minute and listen. [Tweet this]
There’s a barn near our house that local kids say is haunted. “When you step inside, you can feel the temperature drop!” I know. Spare the logic. It will do you no good! There is such mystery about the place, even with sun-to-shade realities being what they are, the reputation is hard to shake. Similar mystery also swirls around others’ places of worship.
Have you ever visited a mosque? If so, good for you. If not, it’s a good idea. A Christian isn’t cheating on Jesus by visiting a mosque. In fact, it will probably make you a better Christian. (Tweet this.) Both Jesus’s words and his example encourage us to connect with people we tend to view as outsiders.
Here’s how to do it:
- Call ahead: Mosques aren’t always open and the leaders may prefer visitors at specific times. Go Friday mid-day, and it will be the busiest. But you’ll also get to (have to?) sit through a sermon!
- Go with friends: Pre-arranging with some buds will push you to actually go when the time arrives! Be aware, women should take a scarf and may be directed to their own place.
- Sock foresight: You’ll be asked to take off your shoes. This will feel weird, but it’s ok. And no one will steal them. (Unless you go to this guy’s mosque!)
- Kind and curious: Aim for a learner posture. Think of your visit as a class, not a crusade. Ask good questions. Sit in the back during prayer. Observe and pray.
- Expect to connect: Ask God to lead you to people who might be up for coffee and further conversation.
Feel free to email me if you want to visit a mosque, but have more questions. (firstname.lastname@example.org)