A Cleveland church has invited members of the Muslim community to an iftar in a special gathering to mark the Holy Week and the Holy month of Ramadan.
The April 12 iftar, hosted by West Park United Church of Christ, Cleveland, for the Northern Ohio Intercultural Association, comes after the COVID pandemic prevented in person meetings for two years.
“We thought Holy Week would be a great time for the iftar,” said the Rev. Jason Thompson, pastor of the Ohio church, UCC reported.
“While this week is especially important to Christians, we recognize our shared faith in God. Ramadan is holy and sacred to our Muslim friends and it is a joy to honor that with them.
“For us, hosting an Iftar is more than just building community. It is our acknowledgement that our still-speaking God speaks to different people in different ways. There is a Hindu proverb that sums it up: ‘There are many lamps, but only one light.’”
The church and the Turkish cultural organization began a partnership in 2017 and spent the first few years getting to know each other.
Ever since, they’ve come together for cooking classes and educational programs.
“Our bond is now strong enough that we can ask the hard questions of each other, that we might learn more deeply,” Thompson said.
As the two groups haven’t been together for more than two years, Tuesday-night iftar was a real celebration.
“When I say, ‘you’re not like me,’ that is not a bad thing,” Thompson said.
“It is a thing of beauty to understand that our infinite God has created so much difference. And when we understand that fully, when we come to believe that God loves all God’s children, we see that we are more the same than we are different. Each of us is created and loved by God.”
Ramadan is the holy month of fasting when Muslims are required to avoid all food and drink between sunrise and sunset. Moreover, they’re also encouraged to increase their charitable efforts and doing good deeds.
Social and interfaith gatherings for iftar meals have become a basic part of the holy month of Ramadan during which people come together.