December 16, 2012

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday, December 16, 2012 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm at St. Pauls Church in Cambridge, in the small chapel located in the Parish Center. Please join us in person or in spirit as we encourage Inter-faith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land.

We have a wonderful opportunity for our December gathering to enter into the Christian understanding of the four week Advent Season and explore together the meaning in Islam of the Birth of Jesus and the presentation of the the Virgin Mary as they are revealed in the Qur'an and in the Christian scriptures. Louis Massignon uniquely envisioned the Virgin Mary as the bridge among all three Abrahamic traditions. There is much to think about and bring into our prayer together.

In our Catholic Christian liturgies we hear many readings from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures during this season of waiting with hope and expectation for the coming of the Christ child, the image of God's abundant and all merciful love in our tradition. In the first week of Advent we hear from the book of Isaiah that the "mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains," that "all the nations shall flow to it." And we hear, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.....that He may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." We are told that the word of the Lord will come forth from Jerusalem and that the Lord will be "the judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."

To begin our prayer together with these images of peace and hope for the future also leads us to the other message of Advent for Christians which is the expectation of the second coming of Jesus. Pondering the meaning of these images forms the basis for our prayer and reflections during this season and helps us to experience Christmas in new and inspiring ways each year.There are frightening images in the book of Revelations in the Christian scriptures that precede the second coming and then there is the strikimg images of new life.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them and they shall be his people, and he himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away." (Revelations 21:1-4)

Images of the young Jewish maiden Mary hearing the message of the angel of God permeate this season of Advent. Massignon experienced Mary's "Yes" to God's will and her willingness to bring the Holy child into the world despite her youth and her fear as the epitome of our call as Christians. Submission to the will of God in our lives, waiting with hope and patience to give birth to Love, to new life in our world, and being ever grateful for the Gift.

The Qur'an adds more dimensions to Mary's "Yes" and to Jesus her son. Let us stop and take time to savour the texts and contemplate the meaning in our lives today. May our constant prayer for Peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and the Holy Land, the city of Jerusalem, and in Syria be steeped in the images of "swords being beaten into plowshares" and Mary's "Yes" to God.

Peace to you.