Rev. Chuck Freeman: Help Build a Mosque
“Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.” (Ezekiel 37:11)
My God, I relate to this! I am weary to the bones of making statements protesting the brokers of intolerance in America.
Their verbal AK-47s are spraying out fear and falsehoods so quickly that I become dizzy trying to decide which bullet to fend off: controversies surrounding the building of an Islamic center in New York, rancor around building mosques in numerous communities across the country, the arson of a mosque in Tennessee, the threat to burn a Quran by a Christian Minister, and the freshly minted, eternally ludicrous Texas State Board of Education resolution to counter supposed pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias in public school textbooks.
Here is Prophet Ezekiel’s dry-bone encounter and action plan:
I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. [The LORD] asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'”
So I prophesied as I as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet — a vast army. (Ezekiel 37:2-10)
Prophecy is the bold combination of seeing, speaking, and doing that literally invigorates parched bones with the Spirit of Life. Armies don’t sit around holding press conferences and discussion groups. They undertake decisive action!
Over the past few years I have developed a relationship with Islam Mossaad, the imam for the North Austin Muslim Community Center in Austin, Texas. In response to all the indignities chronicled above, my congregation, Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church, took a special collection to help the people of NAMCC build their mosque. I will present the meager $530 offering this Saturday at their celebration. The amount hardly matters. This symbolic act infuses breath into the brittle bones of America, affirming the core principles of our precious democracy.
Resist the temptation to waltz off with do-gooder resolve and start writing checks. Begin with a relationship and see where its Spirit leads you. Your tangible action will flow out of this life giving connection.
WWJD? What would Jefferson do? He spoke to a group of Baptists in the birthing phase of our nation: “In our early struggles for liberty, religious freedom could not fail to become a primary object.” Jefferson considered this liberty so foundational he had engraved on his tombstone, “Author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom.”
We have done enough talking. We have been on the defensive for too long. It is way past time to do something positively prophetic:
“Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.
They came to life and stood up on their feet — a vast army. (Ezekiel 37:4-6, 10)
I invite you to visit the Facebook page “Help Build a Mosque” and share your stories.