Being of Service? In the Town Where I Work!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SERVE because Christ served

Being of Service? In the Town Where I Work!

The town where my church is located is Morton Grove. Great town! And, multi-cultural town, too. People of many different cultures, different languages, and different religions all living together.

I attended a planning meeting for the Interfaith Ecumenical Thanksgiving Eve Service this afternoon. Excellent introduction to a number of other ministers and religious leaders from the community. I so much appreciated it. And—this was a wonderful way of serving.

I especially was grateful that this ecumenical service is so well laid out. Since this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Thanksgiving Eve service in Morton Grove, this celebration will be particularly poignant. Much support from the local congregations, too!

One of the people at that meeting was a representative from the Muslim Community Center, Dilnaz. She was eager to enter into the planning process. She also had a number of great ideas. We incorporated one—in particular—into the later part of the service. It involves children and youth, and will be a welcome addition to the multi-generational aspect of the service.

At the end of the meeting, friendly Dilnaz and I asked each other several questions. She is involved with a number of interfaith dialogues and outreaches in the neighboring suburbs. It turns out we both know a Presbyterian minister who also is instrumental in interfaith outreach in this area. (Yes, Dan, I’m talking about you!) I am pleased and amazed when that happens . . . when I find out that someone I’ve just met knows someone else I know.

This Muslim/Christian interfaith dialogue has been going on for some time, although a number of people are (knowingly or inadvertently) putting on the brakes. Because of the new, hardline Islamic State (IS or ISIS), I have noticed Muslim people here in the area being extra cautious in their interactions in public. I am glad that people like Dilnaz, our Muslim friend at the planning meeting, was so genuine and outgoing. Believe me when I say that I have seen reports of some hesitancy, even some downright animosity toward Muslims, in the greater Chicago metro area.

I am even more happy to see reports of some push-back. Some backlash against the hardliners in IS or ISIL. A group of British Muslim young people came up with an excellent video, and use of a hashtag: #notinmyname. This shows people throughout the world that the extremists are just that—a small, even tiny percentage of the whole of the Muslim world. You go, young people! God be with you. God be with me, too. God be with all of us!


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Potluck for Peace? Being of Service! (Feature Friday)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 12, 2014

Peace I leave with you Shalom

Potluck for Peace? Being of Service! (Feature Friday)

So, there I was. Sitting at a potluck table with a group of eight youth—four diverse Catholic high schoolers, and four Muslim youth. Two girls covered their heads, and wore hijab. The other girl didn’t, and the fourth was a boy, a high school freshman. I was very interested to hear what happened in the lively conversation. All eight were friendly, open, and wondered about each other. Asked each other questions, and found a lot of similarities in their school experience. Six of the eight had iPhones, and often glanced at them, referred to them as we all ate dinner together. Sure, there were differences between the youth! But at the same time, there were even more things that were similar!

I couldn’t help but think of the advice the Apostle Paul gave to the church at Rome as I attended the Children of Abraham Coalition event last Thursday night, September 11th: simple advice from Romans 14—don’t judge! Father Corey Brost, President from St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights, invited me to attend this Potluck for Peace, as a gesture of friendship. Many diverse people came together for peace, from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures, all over the world. And, I’m glad I attended!

As Fr. Corey told the assembled guests at the beginning of the dinner, September 11 is a fascinating day, in terms of world history. September 11, 1893 was the first day of the very first meeting of the World Parliament of Religions. Wonderful, to have September 11th be such a hopeful anniversary, an anniversary of peace and reconciliation.

Today, the Children of Abraham Coalition wants to highlight peace—shalom, salaam, peace. And, they also would like to educate others about the religious traditions that came from Abraham. These times of learning, sharing, and building relationship between individuals (and groups) is a practice by which many people are still challenged.

The separate speakers spoke of peace. Peace is the main thing, the only thing that we all need to lift up, and concentrate on. As was suggested last night at the dinner, different ages coming together do simple things like share a simple meal together, and share compassion. What a Godly thing to do! And—the world is a little bit different, a little bit more loving, because a group of peace-loving people gathered in the gymnasium in a high school in Arlington Heights, last night. Praise God!

Want more information about the Children of Abraham Coalition? Check them out on Twitter: @coacpeace

Or, go to their Facebook page:


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