Vaiyeleh Abram -And so Abram went. So begins the history of three religions: Judaism, then Christianity, then Islam. Abram does not discuss, debate or question. He goes.
First God commands him to abandon three things: his country, his kindred, and his father's house.
He commands him to go to whatever place he shows him, but does not tell him the destination.
He makes a five part promise:
- I will bless you
- I will make your name great
- You will be a blessing. The midrash points out that you can change one vowel and it becomes a spring of water.
- bless those that bless you and curse those that curse you
- in you all the families of the earth will find blessing
So it is simple; abandon everything by which you are identified, become a lifelong pilgrim, and you can brings God's blessing on the whole world. And Abram went without question. And with the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost God fulfilled all his promises. The biblical chronology places Abram at about 2000 BC, a blink in time from God's perspective, for us who measure time in nanoseconds-an eternity.
Why God chose that man, at that time, in that place, we may never know. But he did.
We Christians refer to him as "our father Abraham" which makes Moslems and Jews our brothers and sisters. We are all equally the children of Abraham. As we begin reading Abram's journey I cannot but think about how disappointed Abraham must be to see his children fighting amongst themselves.
For our Islamic brothers and sisters Ramadan began the evening of June 17 and will end the evening of July 17. Like our Jewish brothers and sisters they use a lunar calendar. Christian use a mixed lunar/solar calendar. It is similar to our Lent in that it involves fasting, almsgiving and extra prayer. It is a time of self-discipline and introspection, a time dedicated to purification and prayer, a time to refrain from all bad thoughts,words,and deeds.
Last week we were reminded that hatred and terrorism are not Islamic they can wrap themselves in American nationalism as well. I hear some people ignorant of history say "Those people have been fighting forever" and imply we should give up on peace. God has not given up on any of us despite our repeated failings. How can we give up on one another?
As we read our way this week through the story of Abram, let us focus on our commonality, let us focus our hearts and minds and prayers on the one God, the one father Abraham, and let us pray with and for our Isalmic brothers and sisters that this may be a fruitful Ramadan.