This past weekend was Tabaski (in West Africa,) or Eid al-Adha, “the feast of the sacrifice”, where Muslims celebrate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son and God’s provision of the substitutionary lamb. As I understand it (and my understanding is very limited) each family has to have a lamb (one for each wife), the lamb is blessed by the religious leaders and slaughtered to cover the sins of the family for the year. Then the lamb is roasted by an open fire all day and the family enjoys the organ meat the first day than shares the roasted lamb with family and friends and the needy. This year was the first time that I can remember the celebration falling on a Sunday, so as we were leaving church we had the experience of seeing family after family skinning and preparing their sheep for roasting—it is a very involved process. One of the boys commented that they saw a sheep looking on while the others around were being slaughter and they thought that was crazy that the sheep didn’t seem to be reacting. Dave commented that sheep are stupid like that.
But I think that sometimes we are like those sheep and are willing to turn a blind eye to what is happening around us and hope that it doesn’t really affect us. It is easier just to look out for number one and not care what is happening to others, because if we start to care we may have to try and do something about it and that might cost us. How often do we choose to just nod or smile and say hi to our neighbours without taking the time to find out what is really happening in their lives? Or live in fear of rejection instead of sharing the hope that we have in Jesus? What kind of hope do we have if we live and fear and keep it to ourselves?
As an outsider I see a lot of the good and the bad of Tabaski. I know that the hope of the sacrifice covering their sins is futile. The sacrifice and cost of the sheep, no matter how expensive, can never be enough no matter how often it is done. I see so many who can’t afford this going in to debt to make it happen because of the shame that comes if you aren’t participating. There is an incredible amount of pressure for those who walk away from Islam because so much of this celebration is public (the fires burn on the side of the road with all the neighbours sheep roasting together). There is a unity in the celebration that binds the people together in the joy (or is it the competition) and there is a generosity that becomes a necessity (because who can eat that much meat before it goes bad).
I guess it makes me wonder what we as Christians have to offer in the area of celebrations, Christmas, Easter and maybe Thanksgiving? Have we let the world so commercialize them that they are no longer communal celebrations and times when we can share the love of Christ with those around us? Or are we just selfish in how we choose to celebrate? I know that I get really tired even just thinking about trying to share Christmas with my Muslim friends and neighbours and they come with a lot of their own expectations that the media has fed them too. It makes me want to give up and run away because I know that I can never measure up, but I guess that is not the point. The point is to share the love of Christ and let them know there is a sacrifice that is sufficient.
Things seem to be moving ahead on the building reconstruction. Pray that the construction goes well and good decisions are made (I’ll try to get some pictures up soon).
It is hard to believe that the first quarter of the school year is drawing to a close already this week (but that is what happens when you start school the second week in August.) Please pray that I would be able to get caught up in my marking over the school break.