On Friday, Feb 3rd, following the the tragic attack on a Quebec mosque, along with other faith leaders and civic leaders, I was invited to address a prayer vigil held by the Newmarket Muslim community. Here are the words I shared and the prayer I offered:
To our friends in the Muslim Community
My dear friends, thank you for the invitation to be with you tonight. On behalf of the Anglican church, allow me to express my sincere condolences over the terrible wound inflicted on your community. We stand with you as brothers and sisters in your grief. But I also want to say that we stand with you in hope and in love. As people of faith, who serve a loving God, we need to come together and hold before the world our shared commitment to the God of love and express that commitment in love for each other.
In the Christian scriptures, a man comes to Jesus to ask him which commandment is the greatest, and Jesus responds, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Jesus tells him that this is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it: “Love your neighbor as yourself – On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.” The Anglican liturgy begins with this affirmation, to which we respond, “Lord have mercy upon us, and write both these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee.”
God writes the Law of love on our hearts so that at difficult times, in times of violence, in times of violation, we might be given the grace to show the world a better way. This evening, by calling friends together in vigil, you are showing the world a better way, a more tolerant way, a more loving way. As a priest of the Church I am ever mindful of the single most important commandment that Jesus gave to his follower: “I am giving you a new commandment, to love one another as I have loved you.”
I am humbled, and we are all humbled to be a part of this time together, in which we can all support each other in love, and look forward in hope. In a world that knows much pain, together, as people of faith, members of our wonderful tapestry of faith communities, we can make God’s love known by loving each other, and walking together through dark times and grief. Violence will never defeat the love of God, nor can there be any grief that is beyond God’s comforting. I pray that by being together, as people of faith, God’s love will be made known. We are here today to show love and support for one another. Be assured of God’s love and be assured of our love.
Let us pray,
Loving God, in your tender compassion and mercy, you come to your people in times of darkness and despair with love and hope. Inscribe your love on our hearts that we might be a people of love and in loving one another, become apostles of peace to a broken and hurting world. Help us to feel your loving embrace in this hour; and give us the faith to believe that through your love unity can overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy overcome despair. Hold this community in your tender embrace and bring us all the healing that you alone can give. In your almighty name and for your sake we pray. Amen.
Incumbent Priest, St. Paul’s Anglican Church