December 5, 2018
Rev. William C. Bills
Back in September, I invited Imam Sohail Chaudry of the East Lansing Islamic Center to speak during worship. September was Peace Quest month in East Lansing. There were many events in the Lansing area that month, all designed to promote peace. Peace Quest is sponsored each year by the East Lansing Peace Education Center. Their goal is to promote peace and understanding in our community. Imam Sohail came to speak to us about Christian-Muslim relations. His sermon was well received by many, though not by all. A few people expressed displeasure with me for inviting a Muslim to preach during Sunday worship. They cited Muslim extremism, Muslim attitudes toward women, and one said that a Muslim congregation would never allow a Christian to speak in a mosque. Part of my response to such concerns was to say that I am sure those concerns may be warranted in some instances, but not in all. Just as there is variety within Christian perspectives, so too is there variety among people of other faiths. Therefore, in the interest of enhancing relationships in our community, and fostering peace and understanding among different religions, I am willing to risk taking a first step toward peace.
Our planet is getting smaller day by day. Travel, technology, and television bring us closer to one another no matter where we live in the world. Understanding racial, cultural and religious diversity will be important to the future survival of the human race. The idea that one culture, one race or one religion must prevail on this planet is suicidal thinking. It is essential that we learn to accept, respect, and live together on this planet so that we can all live together on this planet. Otherwise, there won’t be anyone left living on this planet.
Imam Sohail will be with us again on Tuesday, December 11 at 7:00 p.m. to offer a presentation on Jesus and Mary in the Quran. The presentation is part of his Islam 101 series which is offered monthly at the Islamic Center. I attended the presentation last year in December. I learned that the Quran has some interesting stories about Jesus and Mary that are not found in our Bible. Some of the material I recognized from non-canonical gospels I am familiar with. The Quran speaks more about Mary than do the gospels. This presentation is especially appropriate for this season of the year. Sohail now offers Islam 101 in other congregations in the hopes that people might better understand one another and live together in peace. I hope that you will come to Islam 101 and learn some new things about Mary, Jesus and even the Christmas story.