O God of Many Names,
Mystery of all Creation,
Source of Life and Love,
You who teach our spirits to sing,
And our hearts to weep:
We gather to celebrate our oneness, to pray for peace, to stand for love, to light a candle -- in a nation and a world that seem filled with division, violence, hatred and darkness.
Give us courage to name and face the gaping wounds and evils around us:
The hatred that led to the attacks of September 11, 2001; the devastation and death of many innocent lives that day; the ensuing spiral of war, revenge and human rights violations, shattering lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and beyond, as well as lives of U.S. women and men in uniform, their families, communities, and friends.
Hatred and white supremacy – from Charlottesville to Palo Alto; xenophobia and bigotry that treat some people as disposable;
Nationalism that justifies war and torture, the build up of weapons of mass destruction, bans on Muslims and refugees, cruel immigration policies and the destruction of dreams;
Religious hypocrisy that denies the sacred image of God in each and every human being;
Ignorance that denies the real crisis of our planet, that offers weak platitudes rather than wise policies in the face of ecological catastrophe;
For all we do, and all we tolerate, that destroys the dreams of our children, of any child, for a chance to live in a just and peaceful world.
Many people asked about the wonderful poem written and read by Naiel Ahmed Chaudry (pictured left reading it at the picnic) during the Peace Picnic program on September 11, 2017.
"WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER"
... by Naiel Ahmed Chaudry
We can be boys and we can be girls
But altogether we'll shine like pearls
We can be black and we can be white
But altogether we'll have the might
We can be short and we can be tall
But altogether we'll never fall
We can be strong and we can be weak
But altogether we'll be unique
We can be poor and we can be rich
But altogether we'll make the switch
We can be fast and we can be slow
But altogether we'll make it flow
We can be right and we can be wrong
But altogether we will be strong!
We are collecting helpful resources from other organizations.
Here are some we have found so far:
Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Resource Guide - Great resource from Southern Poverty Law Center.
Do's and Don'ts for Bystander Intervention - A one page list of important guidelines from the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker organization).
Everyone here has constitutional rights, and that includes Muslims, immigrants and refugeees. The ACLU has Know Your Rights posters translated into 14 languages, and provides videos in Spanish, Arabic, Urdu and Farsi on what to do if stopped by immigrant agents or the police. Click here to access these important resources from the ACLU website, and share widely!
Knowing your rights is crucial, now more than ever.
This is a gift to you for today: WATCH THIS VIDEO AND BE TRULY INSPIRED.
In face of the darkness, Valerie Kaur shares the deep hope of her Sikh tradition as she speaks on December 31, 2016 at the National Moral Revival Campaign.
What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?
Valerie Kaur is filmmaker, civil rights lawyer, Sikh activist and interfaith leader. She is founder of the Groundswell Movement.
During a time when our immigrant neighbors are rightfully afraid to leave their homes, take their children to school, seek shelter from the cold, register for college, or seek medical attention, as people of faith we cannot sit by and simply pray. During a time when Jews and Muslims nationally and locally are targets of bomb threats, hate crimes, and desecration of sacred spaces, as people of faith we cannot sit by and simply pray. During a time when tens of millions of Americans rightfully live in fear that they will lose their access to health coverage, as people of faith we cannot sit by and simply pray. During a time when millions of people have fled their homes due to horrendous violence in places like Syria, Iraq, Sudan and Libya, and thousands of people drown trying to find refuge, as people of faith we cannot sit by and simply pray. During a time when these and many other forms of hate, violence, and injustice fill our inboxes, newspapers, social media feeds, and dinner table conversations, as people of faith we cannot sit by and simply pray.
As people of faith we are called to:
And very importantly, as people of faith, we must do all of this and more in the name of our faiths, shining a bright light of hope that together, people of all faiths and no particular faith at all, can and will stand up for peace and social justice, and as we unite in that cause, we will grow stronger in love, a love that will be victorious.
All faith traditions teach about welcoming the stranger, supporting the vulnerable, and helping those in need. In response to the cruelty of the recent presidential executive orders, as people from diverse spiritual communities, we lift up our hearts in prayer and join our minds and lives in solidarity.
MVPJ has just begun collecting prayers, statements and other faith-based readings from diverse traditions for refugees, immigrants, Muslim-Americans, and others who are hurt by these orders. If you have resources you would like to share, please let us know.
We encourage congregational leaders to speak out for friendship and peace with our Muslim sisters and brothers and against Islamophia and hate of any sort. Find ways to educate your congregation about Islam and build relationships and understanding across religious differences. Invite a speaker from American Muslim Voice, CAIR or ING. Organize a time of fellowship and community building between communities. Consider using your church sign as a way to make a public statement of solidarity and friendship with the Muslim community.
Call your Senators and Congressperson in Washington to make your voice heard! This does make a difference! Consider spending 3-5 minutes each day making these brief calls. While emails and letters are good, phone calls have the most impact! Identify yourself as a person of faith, and briefly explain how your faith leads you to your stand.
See below for contact information for Senators and Representatives.
This is a time to work together! So much of what we hold dear - human rights, compassion for victims of war, nuclear disarmament, protection of the earth, welcoming of immigrants and refugees, health care for all, peace and diplomacy with other countries - is under attack. Let's support one another and build networks that are strong in diversity and united in compassion.
Here is a broad list of organizations that we consider worthy of consideration in these times. We know that not all communities endorse all the groups on this list, nor does this list represent official endorsement of MVPJ or any of our participating communities. There are surely many other wonderful and worthy organizations that do not yet appear! Most of these are either local, faith-based, and/or partners of MVPJ in various endeavors.
On December 8, at a conference in Vienna, Pope Francis issued a new statement on nuclear weapons titled "Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition" that indicates a major change in Roman Catholic policy. "Nuclear deterrence and the threat of nuclear assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states," the Pope said. While the Roman Catholic Church has long declared the use of nuclear weapons to be immoral, it has, up until now, articulated a "conditional acceptance" of nuclear deterrence as a necessary evil. This changes with the Pope's message, which was read on the first day of the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons conference in Austria.
The Vatican's statement declares, "The youth of today and tomorrow deserve far more.... Peace must be built on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, respect for fundamental human rights, ... and the building of trust between people."