Archive for September, 2015

Be Opened

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Rev. Dr. Melanie Miller

September 6, 2015

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Biblical Testimony: Mark 7:31-37

Then Jesus returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Contemporary Testimony: excerpts from “Ephphatha”  by Wayne Saffen

Now listen to this, you hucksters of religion, all you faith healers, gatherer of crowds, who come to smite the populace with miracles, spectaculars; when Jesus healed a deaf man he took the man aside, privately, away from gawkers

Repeat the procedure exactly. Try the sequence in proper order. Isolate the experimental subject. Stick finger into ear. Spit on finger. Place finer on tongue. Look heavenward. Sigh. Say the magic word. Got it? Try it. Ephphatha! Be opened!

Now that we have rehearsed the event, do we understand it better? Of course not. Let’s start with something easier. Try listening to what others say. Experience the loss of your own deafness. Say how you feel, and watch your tongue come untied. Get somebody you can trust to practice on.

You already know how to sigh. Now learn to open up.

God Is So Good

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Rev. Dr. Melanie Miller

August 30, 2015

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Sacred Testimony: verses on The Salat (Prayer) from the Quran

[20:14] “I am God, there is no other God but Me, you shall worship Me and observe the Salat (Contact Prayers) to commemorate Me.”

[5:6] “O you who believe, when you observe the Salat (Contact Prayers) you shall wash your faces, wash your arms to the elbows, wipe your heads and wash your feet to the ankles.”

[2:150] “Wherever you go, you shall turn your face (during Salat) towards the Sacred Masjid; wherever you might be, you shall turn your faces (during Salat) towards it.”

[10:9-10] “As for those who believe and lead a righteous life, God guides them by virtue of their belief. Rivers will flow beneath them in the garden of bliss. Their prayer therein is, ‘Be You Glorified our God’ their greeting therein is, ‘Peace’ and the ending/conclusion of their prayer is, Praise be to God of the universe”

Contemporary Testimony: excerpts from Muslims and Islam Were Part of Twin Towers’ Life by Samuel G Freedman, September 10, 2010, The New York Times

Sometime in 1999, a construction electrician received a new work assignment from his union…2 World Trade Center, the southern of the twin towers.

Over the next few days, noticing some fellow Muslims on the job, Mr. Abdus-Salaam  [asked] “So where do you pray at?” And so he learned about the Muslim prayer room on the 17th floor of the south tower.

He went there regularly in the months to come, first doing the ablution known as wudu in a washroom fitted for cleansing hands, face and feet, and then facing toward Mecca to intone the salat prayer.

“It was so freeing and so calm,” Mr. Sareshwala, 47, said in a phone conversation from Mumbai, where he is now based. “It had the feel of a real mosque. And the best part is that you are in the epicenter of capitalism — New York City, the World Trade Center — and you had this island of spiritualism. I don’t think you could have that combination anywhere in the world.”

How, when and by whom the prayer room was begun remains unclear. Interviews this week with historians and building executives of the trade center came up empty…Yet the room’s existence is etched in the memories of participants like Mr. Abdus-Salaam and Mr. Sareshwala.

Moreover, the prayer room was not the only example of Muslim religious practice in or near the trade center. About three dozen Muslim staff members of Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the north tower, used a stairwell between the 106th and 107th floors for their daily prayers.

Fekkak Mamdouh, an immigrant from Morocco who was head waiter, attended a worship service just weeks after the attacks that honored the estimated 60 Muslims who died. Far from being viewed as objectionable, the service was conducted with formal support from city, state and federal authorities, who arranged for buses to transport imams and mourners to Warren Street.  There, within sight of the ruins, they chanted salat al-Ghaib, the funeral prayer…

Stay Hydrated

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Rev. Dr. Melanie Miller

August 23, 2015

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Biblical Testimony: Ezekiel 36:22-26

22 Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. 24I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. 25I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Contemporary Testimony: From the Gulen Movement website, History of the Hizmet Movement and Fethullah Gülen’s Philosophy Revisited

The Gülen movement (Hizmet in Turkish) is a worldwide civic initiative rooted in the spiritual and humanistic tradition of Islam and inspired by the ideas and activism of Mr. Fethullah Gülen.

Hizmet supporters organize around the view that humans have the potential to do better than reflected by the current state of world affairs. In sync with Sufi thought, Gülen posits greed, whether individual or collective, as the real foe of peace and harmony, not the differences in religion, ethnicity, or ideology. Greedy individuals and groups achieve their objectives by manipulating people’s fear, individually and socially. Ignorance and misinformation fuel paranoia, personal and collective.

For Hizmet, person-to-person communication is crucial to social tolerance. Dialog is not compromise, conversion, or integration. Rather, it is the coming together of people, committed to their respective religious paths (or who have no faith, but are living a life of good works), to better know and communicate with one another and, in due course, work together. This dynamic helps strip away false prejudices, dissipates fear and antagonism, and lays a foundation for trust, peaceful coexistence, and cooperative undertakings.

Hizmet doctors and business people are also known to set up hospitals and bring medical services to underserved countries, such as Nigeria and in central Africa and northern Iraq. Sometimes, these ventures occur in partnership with the Kimse Yok Mu (“Isn’t There Anyone?”) Solidarity and Aid Association. It currently is sponsoring clean water well projects in eighteen countries across the globe.

On the Places Where God Lives

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Molly Lasagna

August 2, 2015

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Biblical Testimony: Psalm 42

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me. By day the Lord Commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?” As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

Contemporary Testimony: an excerpt from Eric Jacobsen’s book Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith

“There is a growing awareness that our downtowns, civic cores, and traditional neighborhoods are not only valuable to the overall health of our culture, but are also fragile and somewhat irreplaceable ecosystems…. On the one hand, we cannot overstate the possibilities of our cities, as the public Christians tended to do during the last century. Creating the perfect, problem-free city will never redeem humanity. On the other hand, we cannot ignore our cities, as private Christians have done, by focusing our efforts as Christians solely on evangelism and stopgap acts of compassion while allowing our residential and commercial decisions to starve our cities of their life force. Again, there are no simple solutions to how we are to live in and with our cities, but the one thing we must not do is ignore them. We must figure out how to work out our discipleship to Christ in the specific context of our cities. We must confront the problems of the city, such as overcrowding, addiction, and declining schools, and not run away from them to the sanitized world of the suburbs. And we must also enjoy our cities for the cultural performances, civic art, and opportunities for human interaction that they provide.”