Presbytery of Chicago prays for Fort Hood victims and families, and for America Muslims
by Junaid Afeef
This afternoon I received a very comforting email from Dr. Jay Moses, Pastor of Congregational Ministries at the First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton. It was about a prayer that he led in his church today. It was unexpected but not surprising to hear about this prayer (not surprising because I know how generous my Christian and Jewish friends can be).
I have not known Jay for very long - we met over the summer during meetings between the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and the Chicago Presbytery. Although we only worked together organizationally for a short time, I really enjoyed connecting with him.
Our second meeting was very thought-provoking. We spent a lot of time talking and getting to know one another. It was during this meeting in August 2009 that I learned some more about the distinctions between Protestants and Catholics and the meaning of evangelism and the attitude of various Christian communities to evangelism. We compared it to those traditions within the Islamic community which are equally focused on “da’wah” or inviting people to Islam. I know I enjoyed the conversation mostly because Jay let me do most of the talking - and about myself as well!
I’m really glad that Jay opted to stay in touch with me post-CIOGC. Interreligious dialogue is something that is very important in these times and whenever I can build a new interreligious relationship and maintain it and grow and nurture it I feel I have made important strides in this work.
Jay sent me a prayer that he and others in the Presbyterian Church recited (not sure that’s the right word) in today’s services. Here is the prayer:
Though the sea should roar, though the mountains shake, God of all Mercy, gird us up this morning. As you protected life in ancient days from the monstrous plans of Tiamat, from the treacherous howls of Levian, protect those who are weak today, mourn with those who mourn, comfort the comfortless, shut up the mouth of death. In the darkness of hopelessness, you split the night and forced your light into this world. As you created space for your people so long ago, as you set boundaries on the waters of the earth, and provided a place of refuge, and hope for creation, we gather together today to find that place of gathering, and of safety. In your strength, in your compassion, set the bounds of terror far from the innocent this morning, may you rain discernment upon us, breath into us your image, so that we may choose life from death, and death dealers from strangers in our midst. Raise up justice, so there may be peace.
In Jesus Christ you have given us a sign of your presence in the worst of circumstances. As the crowds turned so quickly on that day, as Wisdom could not be found, as the sky darkened again against the sin of the cross, of the cross purposes of our own desires, you spoke hope to simple and faithful servants at the break of dawn so as to create hope rather than despair….Be close to your servants on this day, lift them up, let them speak, may true leaders of Wisdom be found. Give us Christ on this day, a crucified one, to sturdy us up for what the future may bring.
Spirit of life, blow upon the earth on this day, blow the crooked straight, close the eye of the quick to judge, fill the broken hearted with signs of your work, cleans the wounds of our hearts, and the dirt from our eyes, so that we may see and be a people of Wisdom, of Reconciliation, and of the Kingdom once more. Create in us a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within us….
We lift up the sick, the downtrodden within our church….
We lift up the legislation for Health care….
We lift up the victims of the outbreak of violence at Ft. Hood….We pray for the families of the wounded and their recovery, of the 13 slain, we pray for the families of Michael Cahill, Libardo Caraveo, of Justin DeCrow, John Gaffaney, Frederick Green, Justin Hunt Amy Krueger, Aaron Nemelka, Michael Pearson, Russel Seager, Francheska Velez, Juanita Warman, Kham Xiong, Save us from the violence within our hearts, the violent ways our religions can be manipulated by the hopeless and sick…..God give us eyes to see the troubled within our societies, heal our minds, protect us from what is easy and challenge us to work towards what is necessary for stability and life for our children.
We pray for the millions of innocent muslims in the United States in the upcoming days….We pray for those of Arabic descent and their treatment within our neighborhoods and towns….We pray for Wisdom O God….. (emphasis added)
We pray as Jesus taught us to pray….
Knowing that Jay and his congregation were thinking of us felt like a getting an incredible and unexpected gift. I sent Jay an email from my blackberry as soon as I got the prayer text and asked if this was a prayer that had been recited in his Church. Jay sent me back this response:
It was,I just wanted to let the muslim community know a little bit of the prayers going on today….we are going to need many more….
Thank you for this gift Jay.
Visit Junaid Afeef’s site at http://americanmuslimjournal.typepad.com/an_american_muslim_journa/