March 23 2017
This past Sunday, I went with Margaret Crook, four of our youth, and youth and adults from St. Paul’s Newton Highlands and several other local Episcopal churches to visit the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury. There we had a tour given by the energetic young adult youth minister of the mosque and his friend, who ably answered our many questions, and also had the opportunity to observe the Saturday evening prayer service. We learned a lot about Islam and how it is practiced. We watched the very diverse community of Boston Muslims gather for prayer, first heading into the place provided for ritual washing, then removing shoes, and greeting each other warmly, men and women in separate areas. Muslim prayer involves standing and prostration, and also standing shoulder to shoulder with the worshipper next to you. There is truly a sense of solidarity and movement in this way of praying, with prayers and scriptures chanted rather than read. I hope that our hosts felt our solidarity with them, and our support of their free expression of religion in a time of greatly increasing Islamiphobia and fear of immigrants. In these times it seems important as Christians to reach out to our brothers and sisters in faith with messages of support, and an openness to learn more about their lives and their worship.
This past Sunday also had too many great scripture readings for me to touch on them all in the sermon. But I wanted to mention this verse from Romans 5, which has spoken to me recently: “. . . we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Nowhere does the Bible say that our lives as followers of Christ will be easy. But over and over again, we are promised that God is with us in everything we go through, and that through patience and endurance, we cultivate hope in ourselves through God’s grace. May it be so for all of us this week, wherever we are.