These are tough days...our church is going through major transition, and we have a lot of work ahead of us to discern how to be the church we are called to be. Today, I found hope in reading a story about Joplin, Missouri. Joplin is similar in size to Ithaca, and it's about an hour's drive from where my grandmother lives (and where my parents lived for a time). In May of 2011, Joplin was devastated by a massive tornado - my parents told me that when they drove through the town after the roads had been cleared of debris, there was destruction everywhere. My dad's favorite place to shop - the Home Depot - was completely leveled, as were countless other homes and businesses. The people of Joplin have had their world turned upside down.
And they continue to struggle to find their way. Recently, a mosque in Joplin was burned to the ground in an arson attack. Because it is Ramadan and the mosque was hosting nightly iftar dinners (the nightly meal to end the fast), I can only imagine how devastating was the loss of their sacred meeting space to the Muslims who gathered and worshiped there. Local congregations came together and held an interfaith iftar, hosted by St. Phillip's Episcopal Church. What a sign of hope and peacemaking in the midst of struggle. Click here to read the story.
This Sunday, I'll be leaving after worship to join Syed and his parents in New York City for our annual celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan. As Muslims bring their month of fasting to a close, I hope that we also will find ways to renew our faith and recommit to our community. May we all seek to offer hope in tough times, and to make peace with one another.