It’s Ramadan!

crescent moonTo me it may be 2nd after Trinity, or even Proper 8 (the title our lectionary puts on this week), but to most of us out here it’s Ramadan. Many around us are fasting, and it’s not easy at this time of year especially. Many around us are praying, and when those around us are doing their fast from good motives, then rejoice that this is in their hearts – we have a common cause and we can seek God alongside them. When those around us are doing their fast from questionable motives (to be seen by friends/family, to justify themselves to God, to earn forgiveness etc), let us show by our living how life with God should be done, the grace of God flowing through us.

One of the ways that the grace of God can be seen in us is that we take sin seriously and fight to live a holy life. We should do this in our private life and also where we see things are wrong in ‘life out there’. When we want to contribute to the fight against sin and see the holy life of God established in ‘life out there’, the place to start is with humility, in our own life. The right way to fight for public right is not clear at all – it involves so many interactions and consequences with so many others, but the right course of action to fight for holiness within is much easier. Time with God, humility, love, time to nurture, time to let the seeds grow. The moon will not hasten it’s course however impatient we may become. In today’s rushing action filled living it is hard to wait.

In the months before Ramadan I notice the moon from time to time and think that this is the second to last, or the last moon before Ramadan. In Ramadan I notice the moon changing because it has an effect on my life. During this moon places to eat when you’re out are all closed, or at least discretely shuttered. At the end of this moon there will be a holiday. It may be that knowing the right course of action in a public arena is part of your job but God seems shuttered away and the refreshment of his guidance is closed off from you. In the which case talk with others and seek advice for you are not the manager at your place of work in isolation from your employees, and in church life we are not Christians alone but in a fellowship. Muslims do not struggle with the Ramadan fasting and prayers alone but with one another. We also should not struggle with the problems we face alone but together.

I pray that the grace of God may flow freely in your life, especially when you face tired and lazy co-workers using Ramadan to take it easy and let you, the non-fasting colleague do all the work. I pray that the grace of God may flow freely in our church life, especially in all those who God is raising up to lead us in the trials we face from time to time.

Ramadan Kareem 😉

Ramadan Kareem

robot_priest_welcomeIt’s the Auto-Vicar here. Steve is safely on holiday with his family and set me up to publish while he’s away. His final weekend in Dubai left his ears and eyes and taste buds wide open enjoying Zoe’s Friday charity bake sale, and Christ Church Academic City’s special pre-summer, pre-service breakfast. Whoever made those rhubarb square things on Friday, and the jam pancake things – perhaps you would like to help with catering at our wedding seminars? There were a few left over, but between weddings Steve found them…and the meat (not local ;-)), cheese, rolls and fruit salad were his favourites at the breakfast. What a fitting way to begin thinking of Ramadan!

Steve hopes you will behave while he’s away – we don’t want to reveal our bad habits to visiting chaplains now do we! So arrive on time, sing up,  and  arrive all ready to pray and receive. Which is more than Steve and Jo did last Sunday as they looked round the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam with their son instead of going to church, saying that they’d been to church on the Friday. Cuh!

I’m just writing now to wish you all Ramadan Kareem and to encourage you to USE the month well and come to church in Jebel Ali or Academic City. Others are giving time to prayer and celebration and so could you. If you are new here and do not understand the sensitivities about not eating in public places and so on then do go to one of the many talks by Muslims which try to help foreigners to understand – but even better, join any Emirati friend you may have after Iftar one evening, and ask them to teach you what it means to them.

One way of using the month to increase your awareness of God is this: every time you hear the call to prayer this month, stop for a few minutes (by the roadside, in the mall, at home, wherever) and wait silently for a moment of stillness to enter you, then in a simple and short way commit your life and your concerns and the concerns of your friends to God. Then say the Lord’s prayer. Then just continue what you were doing before. By the end of the month it will feel like you are expecting a call from God at any time, and at any time he may call you can say, as it were, ‘excuse me, I’d like a word?’ and you will be much better at pausing to think things to God at any time of day.

Ramadan

I am away and have used a nifty feature on the webthing for the first time that only publishes this when I set it to while I am away on holiday – well, I’m at the Friends of the Diocese Reunion in London anyway on the 1st August when this should appear. I wonder if it’s possible to do services that way – use a timed hologram of myself so that when I’m away it all just kicks in automatically too – AutoVicar! For all your holiday services! So good that 9 out of 10 vicars say their congregation can’t tell the difference! For little extra cost the deluxe edition will even say your prayers for you!

And talking of Prayers – It will soon be Ramadan, which I think is a good time to find out about prayer. Dubai slows down (except just before Iftar), an odd sort of mood comes over the country, and people more easily think about God. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding does some good introductions to Islamic customs. Their advert says:

Held in the courtyard of our wind-tower house in the heart of historical Bastakiya, Old Bur Dubai, your evening will commence after the athan (the call to prayer) at sunset.  Break the fast with your Emirati hosts and enjoy Arabic coffee and dates, then take a moment to watch your hosts pray before Iftar is served.  You are invited to ask any questions you may have about Ramadan, the culture or the traditions of the UAE. After Iftar, join us for a visit to the Bastakiya Mosque, before returning to SMCCU house for dessert and Arabic coffee.  The event will commence approximately 15 minutes before the call to prayer every night from Friday 5th August until Monday 29th August.  Tickets are AED135 per person, under 12’s are free. To reserve an evening exclusively for your organisation…

Why not take a look at website link and perhaps go along.

For those who have planned for Ramadan, and who are not chasing sleeping/relaxed offices for municipality papers, immigrations stamps or whatever, it can be a time to think about how God comes to us and how we come to God.

I have tried fasting during Ramadan once to see what it was like for my neighbours. I have tried, during Ramadan, to stop whatever I was doing whenever I heard the call to pray and pause (at the side of the road if driving, in a convenient chair if out shopping, etc.) to give thanks, to pray for whatever was on my mind, and to say the Lord’s Prayer before resuming life. Both experiences were good. This Ramadan I’ll be unaware of it happening, hearing rather the sound of church bells, but I encourage those surrounded by the call to prayer to hear it, not as a noise in the background, but as a call to pray – pray for those seeking God this month, that they may find him; pray for Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan and all in authority over us, that they may rule with wisdom, courage, justice and mercy; pray for those who are unwilling to listen to anything about the ‘other’ faith (which ever it is), that we may find ways to listen to each other so we may live together in peace.  Our Muslim brothers and sisters give thanks this month for their ‘Word’ given from heaven. We give thanks for The Word’ who came down from heaven. Let the Word dwell in us richly in all wisdom, and let us speak it in the gracious ways we can.

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