Thursday, April 30, 2009

Prayer Campaign

On the eve of our cluster's launch to A-stage status, I am pondering how to sufficiently explain the bounty and blessings of a community-wide prayer campaign.

I have put together a bookmark to give the friends at the Reflection Meeting. On one side, I've put the chosen prayer (Teaching Prayer for the Southern States). On the other side, I want to put a blurb about the value of prayer campaigns. Here is where I'm falling down. In my head I understand what prayer campaigns can bring to a community but when it comes to writing it down, I can't seem to put my thoughts together.

What I came up with I largely "borrowed" from another blog dedicated to an A-status cluster's activities. I loved what it said about the nature of a cluster-wide prayer campaign: "Offering ardent daily prayers... for receptive souls in the cluster and for Baha'i teachers to arise courageously to directly teach the Faith."

I love the idea of "offering ardent prayers." I wonder if all our prayers were "ardent," would we be that much more successful in our endeavors?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A little more on the Ridvan letter

As I reread the Ridvan letter, I was struck by something that had not connected with me the first time... This was a community... conscious of the role it is destined to play in rebuilding a broken world.

WOW! Can you imagine? Each and every one of us has a role in "rebuilding a broken world."

Therefore, we need to reframe our concept of the teaching work to encompass the idea that the only way to rebuild this broken world is to bring it Baha'u'llah's healing message. This alone should be enough to push us to stretch ourselves a little more... To step out of whatever comfort zone we have created and move beyond what is simply easy to something more profound, meaningful and engaging.

At times, I am proundly saddened by the world as it exists today. I see pictures of suffering children and I am almost moved to inaction by an overwhelming sense of grief. In these moments, just a short prayer can be enough to make me remember that the only remedy is to teach Baha'u'llah's Faith... Remember this and move resolutely forward. This Ridvan season, challenge yourself. Make a move to tell one person, in a direct manner, about the Faith. Let's all of us, together, make little steps; and those 'little steps' will be a giant leap towards the goals of this 5 Year Plan.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Ridvan Letter

Wow. That's all I have to say... Well, not really but that was the first word to come to mind as I read the Ridvan letter from the Universal House of Justice. After that, I had a few thoughts that I wanted to share: one could have imagined then how profoundly the Lord of Hosts, in His inscrutable wisdom, intended to transform His community in so short a span of time.
This is wonderful! The House of Justice is celebrating our achievements while helping us to understand that we are all just a part of God's greater plan and that if we keep working undismayed and united, we will continue to grow and be successful in our efforts to serve the Plan.

Each and every one offered a glimpse of that race of beings, consecrated and courageous, pure and sanctified, destined to evolve over generations under the direct influence of Baha'u'llah's Revelation.
This is definitely a new way of looking at evolution! To imagine that the House saw in the participants of the conferences a glimpse of this new race of man that would embody, in the future, those attributes of God made possible by the coming of Baha'u'llah. That means we have a long way to go but, at the same time, should feel some gratitude that already in only a few generations, the signs are appearing!

In them, we saw the first signs of the fulfilment of our hope expressed at the outset of the Plan that the edifying infludence of the Faith would be extended to hundreds of thousands through the institute process.
Again, the House of Justice can see the glimmer, the beginning, the achievement of goals that move us in the right direction; but, there is so much more to do! Keep extending this influence!

The Ridvan letter is about celebration, thankfulness, and rededication to a task given us by Baha'u'llah. As the House of Justice put it, What more can we do at the opening of this most joyous Festival than to bow our heads in humility before God and offer Him thanksgiving for His unbounded generosity to the community of the Greatest Name.

After all, we are ...the community of the blissful...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Deciphering the Dual Challenge

NOTE: I wrote this post when I first started this blog and only today realized I never got it posted. I decided I would go ahead and post it even though I may have already commented a lot on it. :)

Here's my take on "The Dual Challenge." It is merely an understanding from my limited viewpoint and one that will need to be supplemented by thoughts generated by further study of the Writings and letters from the Institutions of the Faith.

Here's the exact quote referred to in the October 20, 2008 letter from the Universal House of Justice: "The challenge facing the friends in these and all clusters continues to be twofold in character. While learning to identify receptive segments of society and share with responsive souls the message of the Faith - an aspiration generally not hard to fulfil - they are striving to understand in practice how the diverse elements of a healthy pattern of growth, particularly the development of human resources, are to be integrated into a cohesive whole. How heartening it is to see that the moment the friends in a cluster begin to meet this dual challenge, immediate progress is achieved; the goal of launching an intensive programme of growth becomes imminently attainable."

1. How do we learn to identify receptive segments and share the message? Who can help us with this one?

One of the most important and useful paths to learning these skills is Book 6. It is full of everything we need to learn... The Spiritual Nature of Teaching, The Qualities and Attitudes of the Teacher, and The Act of Teaching. It is like a step-by-step guidebook to effective teaching from preparing ourselves to identifying the population and methods to a clear outline of what to say once we open our mouths.

If you have not completed Book 6, make it one of the dominating endeavors until Ridvan 2009. And if you haven't yet done it, memorize the first two lines of Anna's Presentation. That way, when you're standing in line at the grocery store or telling the school secretary how your kids were absent to attend the Atlanta conference, when someone says, "I've never heard of the Baha'i Faith, what is it?," you can reply, "The Baha'i Faith is a world religion whose purpose is to unite all races and peoples in one universal Cause and one common Faith. Baha'is are the followers of Baha'u'llah, Who they believe is the Promised One of all Ages."

2. How do we integrate into a cohesive whole the diverse elements of a healthy pattern of growth? How do we develop human resources?

Well, this is what we are all trying to figure out, isn't it? Even in our own cluster, which is starting its first IPG in two weeks, pulling all of our diverse elements into a cohesive whole is our greatest challenge. We have so many individuals working in so many ways and now our new ATC is challenged to find a way to help everyone understand, among other things, that direct teaching is multi-faceted and door-to-door teaching is only one element. If everyone felt the urgency to up-the-ante on their teaching methods, we would be moving towards cohesiveness.

In our Reflection Meeting, we will be challenged to pull everyone's efforts and teaching preferences into a unified whole, moving towards the same goal. If we can help everyone to feel that whatever it is they have to contribute is meaningful and valued, we'll have gone far towards integrating the varied activities of our community. I we can make our plans simple and systematic, we will be much more successful than if we tried to be complex and too complaisant.

There are so many ways to meet the dual challenge and these are only a few suggestions, thoughts and hopes of mine. As usual, I would love to hear about successful strategies others have used!