John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (NRSV)
Last night, I did something that was new to me and well outside of my comfort zone. I attended a candlelit vigil at the local mosque with other faith leaders. We had been invited by the members of the Annoor Mosque in Knoxville to come together just after sunset to pray for the victims and families of the mass murder in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was a very solemn occasion, but also a beautiful one in which Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and other faiths gathered in solidarity to express our sorrow and support for the local Muslim community.
Prayers of all kinds were said and short homilies were given by representatives of the different religions. The one common theme that each spokesperson expressed was about how light can penetrate the darkness and overcome it. By coming together, we were showing one another the light of peace, hope, and love which can extinguish the darkness of division, ignorance, and hatred. The vigil also showed me that we are not each other’s enemies, so when we are not divided, we can confront prejudice and hatred, as well as white nationalism and militant fascism wherever they occur. In other words, faith will prevail over fear.
Last night changed me forever. I also learned that the Arabic word ‘Annoor’ means ‘light’ which shone brightly last night as we shared our common threads of faith, humanity, and love together. One of the mosques that were attacked in Christchurch is also called ‘Annoor,’ so for the sake of their light, we were praying and supporting one another.
Wherever you are in the world today, share light and love. Whoever is in need today, share light and love. And whatever happens today, above all else, share light and love. God bless you all.