Multifaith Prayers for Peace on 11th of the Month: First hybrid service in July hosted by MVPA Musalla
Monthly Multifaith Prayers for Peace
As we move beyond pandemic restrictions, Peaceful Presence will sometimes be offered in-person, sometimes by Zoom, and sometimes with both options - to join in person or via Zoom. Watch for updates!
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice coordinates “Peaceful Presence” gatherings, a monthly prayer service on the evening of the 11th of each month, offering a time of quiet multifaith prayers for peace and strength for the journey. All are welcome: those of all faith traditions and of no defined faith, those who are suffering at the hands of their own government, those who need a pause in the midst of intensive work on behalf of others, and all who would like to pray with others for the well-being of all. The prayer time will include elements from several religious traditions.
Sunday, August 29, 2021, people gathered to "Surround the City with Light and Love" in response to a series of hateful and racist incidents in our community, escalating in racist and threatening signs targeting the Rev. Dr. Debra Murray, Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto. We came together to pray - with our words and feet, our hearts and our lives - that we can be a community devoted to respect, dignity and safety for all people. You can download the inclusive prayer handout here.
Organized by Palo Alto faith leaders, people of many diverse traditions participated. While there is still much work to be done to foster a truly anti-racist, welcoming and liberating community, there is no doubt that, in Pastor Debra's words, "we set some powerful love and energy loose in the world" that afternoon!
The J-Weekly (Jewish News of Northern California) covered the event with this article.
We greatly appreciate Jack Owicki, ProBonoPhoto.org for the wonderful photographs documenting the event, including the one to the left, and those below in this article. Click here for the full photo gallery on the Pro Bono Photo website.
Massingale, a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest, theologian, scholar, activist and professor, insisted that, "the greatest threat to peace in our time, both nationally and even internationally, is the rise of white nationalism." He explained this is so because white nationalism, "is intersectional, threatening social stability and human flourishing on multiple levels and fronts."
Massingale challenged Pax Christi -- and challenges all of us -- that we must not only be anti-war and pro-nonviolence. "You must also make explicit linkage between peacemaking, racism, consumerism, and ecological justice. And you have to be LGBTQ inclusive."
Referring to a quote from Albert Einstein, Massingale concludes his speech, "No problem can be solved from the level of consciousness that created it. We need new ways of thinking, living, loving. New ways of praying and being. This is the deepest call of our faith. We need to be contemplative witnesses of the possibilities of human transformation. ... For that to happen we need to be grounded in the Truly Real, in that Infinite Radical Love Who is deeper and bigger than we are." Finally, he invites us to recommit ourselves to what Martin Luther King, Jr. called, "the long and bitter - but beautiful - struggle for a new world."
Many of us are watching the news about the people of Afghanistan with horror and broken hearts. As people of faith committed to peace and justice, we want to reach out to help, knowing we are one global family.
Below is a brief list of links for possible responses compiled by members of the MVPJ steering committee, a useful article from the New York Times with ways to help refugees, as well as one faith-based response to the U.S. recent drone attacks.
Islamic Relief USA - This page from their website has a very thorough and detailed list of Afghan charities and NGOs offering everything from medical service to legal aid, all of which have a proven, positive track record working in Afghanistan. As explained on the website, Islamic Relief itself is coordinating efforts with other on-the-ground organizations for emergency food, shelter, water, and hygiene.
HIAS - A Jewish organization that supports with refugees, is working to advocate for resettlement rights for Afghans, and working directly with newly arrived Afghan families in the United States.
This New York Time article lists charities, organizations and funds to help Afghans resettle.
Women for Afghan Women is the largest women's organization in the country. Its ultimate goal is to transform the norms of violence and oppression into those of peace and equality. Donations help keep clients and staff safe and provide emergency support for others.
Pax Christi USA (Roman Catholic) has a Pray-Study-Act page with good resources, and also issued this statement condemning the U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan, which only furthers the cycle of violence.
Read below for some local, bay area efforts that you can support.
Once again, our hearts break at the eruption of violence afflicting Israel/Palestine and Gaza. At the heart of the conflict is Jerusalem, a city sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Injustice on the level of home confiscation and restriction of assembly and worship for Palestinians have given rise to the latest round of violence, with missiles killing large numbers in Gaza, killing smaller numbers in Israel but nonetheless spreading terror and trauma. Extremist elements among Jewish and Arab Israelis are engaging in rioting and personal combat that could tragically set back the goal of shared society for a very long time.
As people of faith, we know that violence begets more violence and hatred begets more hatred. We pray that the power of love and justice will somehow prevail over the precious Holy Land, healing the long-standing wounds of injustice, hatred, and war.
We call for an immediate halt to hostilities—on the part of individuals, nationalistic groups, and governments. More combat will only engender more trauma and hatred in populations long battered by war and injustice.
Our prayers are with all those in the region, and all of our neighbors, family, and friends who are deeply connected to Israel and Palestine. May God’s peace and justice soon conquer the forces of violence and oppression.
For fuller statements from a variety of multifaith organizations and partners, click "read more" below.
Coming from many faith traditions, Multifaith Voices of Peace & Justice’s Steering Committee offers this Statement of Solidarity and Call to Action.
Our neighbors who are Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) are often targets of racist taunts and violence. While these expressions of hate are not new – California has a long history of anti-Asian racism – over the last year these attacks have increased in frequency, vitriol, and violence.
For the Christians among us, there is particular need to acknowledge that the murders in the Atlanta area on March 16, 2021 emerged from a distortion of Christian theology which promotes unhealthy sexuality, white supremacy, misogyny, and stereotypes of Asian women.
As people of diverse religious and spiritual traditions, we unite in prayer for the families of the eight people who were murdered, including six Asian women. And we unite in prayer for the Asian American victims of hate crimes in our own area, those whose pain and trauma is too often ignored or cast aside.
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice calls on all people of faith to confront the roots of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia in our midst, and within ourselves, so that we might find new ways to work together to build Beloved Community.
An important TRAINING for you to consider:
You can attend a free, one-hour on-line Bystander Intervention to Stop Anti-Asian/American and Xenophobic Harassment Workshop presented by Hollaback! and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ). Registration required. Workshops scheduled for several different times throughout April.
AND learn more about SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) in the South Bay and beyond visiting the SURJ at Sacred Heart website.
The following statement was coauthored by two members of MVPJ's steering committee in response to the racist zoom bombing of Christian congregations during their Holy Week.
There is a sickness infecting our nation, visible in the news every day, but which some of us don't personally encounter in our everyday lives. That changed last week when a group of peninsula progressive Christian congregations were attacked by "zoom bombers" spewing racist hateful messages and streaming obscene images, disrupting worship for hundreds of people. This hate and othering is all too familiar to people of color, including Asian-American-Pacific-Islanders (AAPI) and others in BIPOC communities, including Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, as well as Jews. It made its way into the living rooms and sanctuaries of Christians during their Holy Week in April, specifically aimed at those followers of Jesus who happen to be among the most welcoming of diversity, fighters for social justice, and protectors of the environment. As a grassroots organization made up of many people of all faiths working for a more peaceful, sustainable, and inclusive world, Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice raises its voice of support for these congregations and calls on the rest of the community to stand up for them and each other.
Hosted by Congregation Etz Chayim, our March 11 Peaceful Presence included wonderful music and prayers as well as contributions from Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith leaders. The theme was Compassion and Justice.
Rabbi Chaim Koritzinsky from Congregation Etz Chayim focused on "March" and turned our attention to the March 25, 1965 "March on Montgomery." He read from a letter by Rabbi Jacob Pressman, a colleague of his who, along with other rabbis across the nation, had responded to Dr. King's call and joined the march. Pressman's impressions are personal, vivid and moving. Click here to download the full text. Some excerpts are particularly relevant for us today:
"At one point we reached a hilltop in the road, and I was able to look back behind me at a solid column of chanting humanity at least a half-mile long. Then I looked down the hill in front of us and again I saw a half-mile of solid humanity, united from everywhere by a common concern for other people, for human decency. I must confess as I stood on that hilltop and saw myself and felt myself surrounded by these decent, caring persons, I burst into tears and never really got my eyes dry for hours afterward. They weren’t tears of sorrow. They weren’t tears of hatred or frustration, but they were tears of pride in the goodness of which man is capable when he tries. ...
Rev. Dr. Eileen Altman from First Congregational Church UCC in Palo Alto and the MVPJ Steering Committee read from Anne Lamott's book, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy. "Mercy, grace, forgiveness and compassion are synonyms, and the approaches we might consider taking when facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves - our arrogance, greed, poverty, disease, prejudice. It includes everything out there that just makes us sick and makes us want to turn away, the idea of accepting life as it presents itself and doing goodness anyway. ...
Our Muslim contribution came from Fattin Wekselman. She shared that an acquaintance of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) named Usamah ibn Sharik narrated:
Two highlights from our February 11 Peaceful Presence, hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, were a moving meditation and an inspiring story!
Rev. Yushi Mukojima from the Mountain View Buddhist Temple led our meditation, which included these words:
There is a saying in Buddhism: Let us cease from wrath and refrain from angry looks. Nor let us be resentful when others differ from us. For all men have hearts, and each heart has its own leanings. Their right is our wrong, and our right is their wrong. We are not unquestionably sages, nor are they unquestionably fools. Both of us are simply ordinary men.
Therefore, our spirit of justice should always be based on wisdom, compassion, and loving kindness, without anger and hatred. Even if we are upset with or even hate another person, we should not dwell on our differences, but just try to let them go. It may be very hard, but do not give into hatred. Hatred can never create anything constructive.
To read the full meditation scroll down or click "Read More" below.
We were also inspired with a reading of the story Kamala and Maya's Big Idea. The book is written by Meena Harris, and illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez. Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi, long time participants with Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice and owners of the independent bookstore Reach and Teach, read the story to us. To purchase the book visit the Reach and Teach website.
On January 11th 2021, MVPJ hosted a Peaceful Presence.
Click here and use the passcode X9ZwZ@^d