December 8, 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This past Sunday evening unknown persons under the cloak of night and cowardice tossed a severed pig’s head from their passing vehicle at the door of the North Philadelphia building that houses the Al Aqsa Islamic Society. This act of desecration and hate directed toward our Muslim neighbors has no place in a civil society and deserves full condemnation by those of us who follow the One who teaches us that no greater commandments exist than those of love of God and love of neighbor.
This coming Sunday, many of our congregations will gather to light the third Advent Candle, traditionally a pink candle often called the Joy Candle. Dare we declare joy in our world where hate rears its ugly head again and again and again? Ours is a world where, in the words of the old carol, “Hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to all.” The carol reassures us, however, “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to all.”
What word do we Christians who celebrate joy have to share with our neighbors whose house of worship and education and community gatherings has been marred with such hate that mocks our song of peace on earth? On behalf of the Presbytery we have communicated our strong support for and solidarity with the members of the Al Aqsa Islamic Society, and our willingness to stand with them against hate.
As our congregations gather for worship this weekend, we encourage teaching elders and other worship leaders to identify and denounce that act of hatred against Al Aqsa by name. We ask for prayer for our community and especially for our Muslim neighbors. We encourage individual Presbyterians, pastors, and Sessions to communicate support and love to our neighbors at Al Aqsa through electronic and other forms of communication. An email and street address are included below. We also encourage the energy, intelligence, and imagination of our members and congregations as we seek to show our love through acts of kindness, compassion, and care to the members of Al Aqsa and other Muslim communities throughout our region.
Advent is a journey to Bethlehem. It is a journey of peace, hope, joy, and love. The despicable act of hatred against the Al Aqsa Islamic Center is to be condemned unequivocally and our love for our Muslim neighbors is to be affirmed unmistakably.
While we join the psalmist’s cry, “How long, O Lord?” we also hear the Apostle’s prayer from this Sunday’s lectionary reading that “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
In the One whose birth proclaims the coming of peace,
Contact Information for Al Aqsa Mosque
Al Aqsa Islamic Society, 1501 N Germantown Ave | Philadelphia, PA 19122
P: 215-765-2743 | F: 215-765-2758
*they are not able to accept email at this time.