DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

October 18, 2006

                                         

 

Our Own Mid-East Peace Plan…

 

It began like any other potluck and ended like no other.

 

I am talking about the Iftar which Dublin Community Church experienced this past Sunday.  An Iftar is a meal served by Muslims at the end of the day during Ramadan, to break the day's fast.  Literally, "breakfast." But this meal was done at sundown in the Goodwill Room of our church.

 

We are not exactly trailblazers in this Iftar-business. A few weeks ago I read that President Bush and Vice President Cheney had an Iftar with the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We figured if the President of the United States could show respect to peace-loving Muslims by sitting at the same table and observing their religious custom, then we certainly could do the same. And we did.

 

While I am not 100% certain of the makeup of members of Dublin CC at the meal, I am pretty certain that we had Protestants, Catholics, Republicans, Democrats, left-leaning liberals, right-leaning conservatives, moderates, young, teens, older-folk, men & women. But I think I am safe in saying that if you took all the various parts of Dublin Community Church at the Iftar and tried to find some common ground it would be: 1. That Jesus Christ is at the center of their lives; 2. That each was open to the notion of finding out more about the Islamic Faith; 3. That each was also, just plain hungry.

 

As for the Muslims. There were men and women, married and single men, lots of children, numerous OSU students. I believe all were Turkish. The men dressed casually, some in a tie and the women dressed a bit more conservatively. All looked like they should be at the local Starbucks ordering frappucinos. The food was wonderful. Their curiosity about our Christian church was just as great as our curiosity about their faith and the time of Ramadan.

 

We began with a brief welcome. One of the Turkish men, a grad student at OSU, chanted a prayer, which was basically calling the people to come together. I was next with a brief blessing on the gathering and thanks for the food.

 

Then we got to the real business of the evening. We ate. We sat at 14 dinner tables. There were 120 people total. Each table had equal parts Christians and Muslims. We talked. We talked about food, families and school. At our table we covered such pressing international topics as soccer, the success of the Buckeyes and traffic problems in downtown Istanbul. Little kids kept wandering around and several of our students snapped their pictures and the kids smiled. The baklava kept getting sampled by all and most of us Dubliners kept asking what kind of exotic meat we were eating (the answer being…”ground beef…with exotic spices”)

 

Muslims shook the hands of Christians and thanked them for opening their church to this peaceful, respectful meal. They seemed a bit stunned that a Christian Church would be so open and joyful to be in their presence.

 

 

 

 

 

You can see that this meal was about as far from being suspicious or subversive as a tailgate party next to Ohio Stadium before the Michigan game. The conversation was about as ordinary as any that you would find at a 4th of July picnic.

 

And therein lies the magic of the evening.

 

Somewhere between their opening chant and my closing blessing and thanks we made the startling discovery that these Muslims were just people who were concerned first about their families and jobs. Their faith was of utmost importance also, but I didn’t come across a one who seemed interested in converting me though many sang the praises of their baklava and I will admit that I am hooked on that.

 

The saddest development in American Christendom since 9-11 has been the open hostility of many churches to Islam and those who practice it. Some preachers preach against Muslims from the pulpit.  Many are fearful that if we sit with Muslims at a common meal, then they will weave a spell on us Christians and insist on converting us. To that I have to wonder if some Christians’ faith is so fragile that one taste of baklava will jolt them to giving up their religion.

 

I really think Dublin Community Church did something so decent and respectful that we should cherish the moment. You are a remarkable church. We have many in our congregation to thank for their initial contact with our Muslim friends; especially Jessa Haynes, Barb Anderson, Rev. Chuck Kuck…and others.

 

No, universal world peace did not break out because of our efforts; but afterwards a Muslim husband and wife came to me and shook my hand and thanked the church. The wife said that if “all Muslims could just sit at a table in this church and eat and talk…if they could do that, they would come to understand how wonderful Americans are.”

 

I suggested that if that were the case, it might get a little crowded in the Goodwill Room and we might have to eat in shifts. Nevertheless, I will contact Condoleezza Rice and see about arranging it. (I’ll use any excuse for more baklava.)

 

Shalom, Salaam and Peace,

                       

Rev. Bob Tussing