On Gratitude during Ramadan: a desire for unity
What I believe about Jesus, but don’t understand at all, is that He loved us before we loved Him. He’s not just loving us back. He’s loving us first.
Last night I stepped my first time through doors with a sign for those allowed there. “Women’s Entrance” it said, and so we entered there and took off our shoes, my friend having been invited to break the Ramadan fast in a local mosque. It was my first time to be separated like that from men. It was my first time to enter the worship place for a religion with which I do not subscribe.
I wore shiny lipgloss, all my flashy jewelry, and a little perfume to cover the okra I had attempted to fry earlier in the evening. I’m southern, American, and I do indeed love Jesus. I don’t know much better, and I don’t plan to be convinced otherwise, but I was nervous, wanting to show love and be liked, a sore white thumb, a smiling doter of all the beautiful children.
The upper room was full of gorgeous women lining their native dishes on a fold-out table. It had all the workings of any fellowship supper I’ve known, plus aromatic potatoes and cinnamon, dates and lemonade. Over every dish, the gentle sound of laughter, many kisses from cheek to cheek, head coverings draping, hands uncovering then serving.
Then a sound, a call I didn’t understand pulled them from their greetings, and they rushed to face Mecca in a perfectly straight row. My friend and I sat in the back in what felt like a held breath, deep-to-deep prayers of our own, and also wonder. Then it started, whatever it is the man sings, the call to pray, to bow the face to the floor, to devote the whole body, and then to stand in pin-drop silence before Allah.
I had to breathe funny not to cry, not to feel overwhelming pain and honor and shame all at once.
“You are guests. You are guests,” they said when finished and pushed us through the line sure to let us grab spoon handles before they reached for a turn. Humility is believable, I thought to myself. Then we sat, all of us together in the floor, we women from so so many tribes, tongues, and nations – and there was unity there. And it hurt.
So I am jaw-dropped today at how I loved those women and would honestly like to know them without pretense. Just women, mothers, fellow humans in need of love – could that happen?
I imagine a room of believers in Christ, all lands and skins and languages gathering up to a great silence, but then bursting in shouts of Praise to our King. Do we have to wait for Heaven for that?
Oh Peacemakers, could you come out with some truth for our broken body?
He loved me first, and then I loved Him back. He invited me to the table, and then I ate. He prayed that we would be united, and then I stopped and stared at Him with big sheep eyes and blinked my dumb lashes. When will I learn about unity? When will I learn to boast alone in Christ and him crucified?
Christ, who sits at the back of the bus with the dirtiest kids
Christ, who gives away his lunch
Christ, who came down to the lowest pit and took on every kind of sick to sympathize with us –
I really want to learn Him.
So how is Unity in your world? How is it for you to be like Jesus?