A week before we were supposed to light the candle of peace for advent, all kinds of atrocities were happening that were being attributed to Muslims. On top of that, famous people were saying horribly racist things against them and it seemed the world was living in fear. Since our church is located across the street from the only mosque in Jackson, one of our congregants told me they thought we should do something. I agreed, and so she ran out to buy some cards for the congregation to sign at church the next day while I ran out to get a fruit basket.
The next day we put the fruit basket and blank cards up on our communion table, lit the candle of peace a week early and I read aloud a letter we would be sending to our Muslim neighbors as a church body:
We felt God impress on our hearts to reach out to you, so we wanted to take a moment to send you a letter. We have witnessed the way that your community cares for and loves one another and it is a beautiful thing to see. Your mosque is not only a neighbor to our church, but many of those in your mosque are neighbors to many of those in our church. Our faith calls us to love our neighbors, and so that is part of the reason we write to you today.
Next week our faith traditionally practices lighting a candle that represents peace. As we approach this tradition, we wanted to send some peace your way as we know that both your race and religion have been under attack and profiled, especially in the past few weeks. We do not align ourselves with the statements made against you. In fact, we know all to well what it is like to have fellow Christians commit extremist acts in the name of Christ. In those moments we find ourselves saying, “No, this is not who we are!”
Included with this letter are the signatures of those in our congregation, all of us offering our love and peace to you this morning. You’ll also find a fruit basket, which we simply offer as a sign of support during these difficult times. Please let us know if there is any way we can help you in the future. We are here for you.
In Peace and Love,
As I finished reading the letter the congregation applauded loudly. We then opened up the communion table for everyone who wanted to come up and sign the letter. The aisle filled faster than ever before.
A few weeks later, on Christmas Eve, the mosque’s Imam stopped by the church to drop off a letter and present for our church. I left them sealed until the service that night. The church was deeply moved as I read their response aloud.
To Our Kind Neighbors,
This is in response to your kind comments we received, via letters and postcards, along with marvelous gifts. We want you to know that we have accepted your thoughts, prayers, and gifts with an open-heart and great pleasure.
We also want you to know we are proud of being a part of this beautiful community where we respect each other’s freedom, culture and religion. We established our mosque with the intention to not only bring peace and harmony, among our local Muslim brothers and sisters, but also to show to the community-at-large, how Islam is supposed to be practiced. We are really pleased to know that our neighbors have found us as peace-loving, law-abiding citizens.
Finally, please pay our highest regards to each and everyone who took their time to write their thoughts on postcards. We want them to know that we have read all of your comments and we share the same message for our neighbors. Rest assured as Muslim followers of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) we will continue to promote peace and love among the believers of different faiths in our community.
May God bless all of you from his unparalleled mercy and guidance.
God Bless America and the world-at-large.
We then opened the present to find a giant box of chocolates. The church ate all of them following service.