June 19 — I awoke this morning to two news alerts on my phone: both describing fatal attacks against Muslims. Early this morning in London, a man used a vehicle to plow through a crowd of Muslim worshippers who were just finishing their evening prayers for Ramadan near the Finsbury Park Mosque. While more details have yet to emerge, there seems to be little doubt that this was an act of terror deliberately timed to inflict casualties in what should have been a moment of deepening connection with the Divine.
In Virginia, 17-year old Nabra Hassanen was attacked at about 4:00 am Sunday while she was walking with friends from prayers at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society. There, a man pulled up in his car and began berating the young group before exiting his car carrying a baseball bat. A suspect is in custody, and (again) while details are still emerging, indications are that this was a crime motivated by hate and Islamophobia.
My friends, we are being continually called upon to be witnesses against hatred, violence, and injustice and to be active allies in solidarity with all who are marginalized and targeted. Just yesterday in worship, we shared a responsive prayer titled “God of the Ever-Present Crosses” (Chalice Hymnal #657; pasted below) where we asked for God to give us strength and courage to commit ourselves to justice. We prayed that God would save us from indifference (and compassion fatigue), decry exploitation, learn to respect more and consume less, and find human solutions to human tragedies.
As our Abrahamic siblings in the Muslim faith enter the final week of Ramadan – – a time when it is believed the gates of hell are closed and peace will reign – – let us continue to work for peace and justice, to stand with our Muslim siblings and those who are marginalized in our society, fight against Islamophobia, and shine out as a beacon of enduring hope in the face of terror.
In practical terms, if you have Muslim friends or acquaintances, now is the time to reach out to them and let them know you stand with them. I will be drafting letters on behalf of the church to send to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Virginia and the Finsbury Park Mosque in London. I ask that you would pray for these communities, and pray and act for an end to all terror.
In the name of the Prince of Peace.
Peace & Blessings,