Eating Together for Peace

September 10, 2010
Cheryl Woelk |

For anyone following U.S. media, it would seem that there is a divide between Christians and Muslims that has lead to violence in the past and will inevitably lead to more. This is a disturbing narrative reinforced by the media coverage of isolated extremist groups.

More comments I've heard recently are the need for the voices of peace to speak up and to act for peace. On the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) campus and in the community of Harrisonburg, I experienced the strength of voices for peace this week.

The last 30 days, Muslim people have been celebrating the season of Ramadan. According to some of my friends in Harrisonburg, this is a time fasting, prayer, nurturing community and relationships, and focusing on spirituality. Today the fasting has ended and Eid, meaning "feast" or "celebration" has begun.

On Wednesday, several Muslim students at EMU decided to host an early celebration of Eid on campus and to invite everyone interested in sharing a meal and conversation . We met together in a spirit of celebration and fellowship. The hosts explained about the traditions of Ramadan and Eid, and prayed. Then we shared in a delicious potluck feast.

More than food, though, this deliberate choice to fellowship across the widely-narrated divide demonstrated the power of hospitality and relationship. As stated in a letter from Mennonite Central Committee U.S. to Anabaptist churches sent out this week, we were engaged in a "radical act" and "powerful counteraction to violence." A potluck turned into a statement.

I realized, in the joy of fellowship and community, that I too have a responsibility to speak my voice for peace. It may not be strong, and it may not be heard by many, but my voice in my words and my life can carry a message that brings healing and hope to the world.

Author Name: 
Cheryl Woelk
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