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It’s easy to think about the church as a pasture. After all, “He makes me lie down in green pastures,” is a beloved image from the 23rd Psalm. But there is a danger in “dwelling” on this image. It tempts us to think in terms of safety within, and danger without. It tempts us to focus our energy on the edge, the fence, the boundary, to get the sheep in and keep the wolves out.
But Jesus also said the church is like a well! “I will give you the water of life” he said. This image reminds us that the church is not called to be a fenced-in, fearful folk, but stewards of a community resource, like a well in the center of a village. Some people live nearby and use the well daily. Others are passing through, or seeking help, and use the well just once. And there are neighbors near and far, sometimes moving closer, sometimes farther away, but all related to that center point, the well of God’s grace that we know in Jesus Christ.
In a world that is often chaotic, that tempts the church to retreat to the safety of its pasture (which sort of sounds like “past” doesn’t it?), the people of Grace Church are committed to remembering that God has dug a well here, a well of living water for everyone who needs it. Grace abounds, refreshing, and giving new life. Come to the well, and drink!
INTRODUCTION TO ISLAM
A number of Grace members have requested that we offer an introduction to Islam to understand how this widespread world religion emerged from Arab nomadic culture, conquering and transforming cultures in its own way, just as Christians did in theirs, while at the same time proclaiming a message of fundamental peace and unity. We will also understand the basics of intra-Muslim differences which emerged very early in the development of this faith and have proven just as resistant to resolving as the differences in belief and practice that we experience in the Christian Church.
This week we welcome Dr. Shobana Xavier, Visiting Asst. Prof. of History and Religious Studies at F&M College. She teaches Islamic World History, Islam, Sufism, gender/sexuality and Islam, as well as religions in South Asia.