Prayer Service in Memory of New Zealand Shooting Victims

Prayer Service in Memory of New Zealand Shooting Victims

August 13, 2019 1 By Stanley Isaacs


(“Amazing Grace”) ♪ Amazing grace ♪ ♪ How sweet the sound ♪ ♪ That saved and set me free ♪ ♪ I once was lost ♪ ♪ But now am found ♪ ♪ Was blind but now I see ♪ ♪ ‘Twas grace that
taught my heart to fear ♪ ♪ And grace my fears relieved ♪ ♪ How precious did that grace appear ♪ ♪ The hour I first believed ♪ ♪ Through many dangers,
toils, and snares ♪ ♪ We have already come ♪ ♪ ‘Twas grace that
brought us safe thus far ♪ ♪ And grace will lead us home ♪ – May the compassionate
one who feels our pain and cries with us in our passion, and the just one who rages
with us against the injustice of our experience be with you. – [Congregation] And also be with you. – Please be seated. Dag Hammarskjöld, economist
and former General Secretary of the United Nations once wrote, freedom from fear could be said to sum up the whole
philosophy of human rights. This past week, freedom
was stolen from all of us. Fear destroyed the lives of 50 Muslims, our worshiping brothers and sisters. Communities were questioning why is freedom lost to such madness? Today, we come together as a community that reaffirms our belief in the commitment to freedom’s gifts. To believe in a particular god or no god. To know that we are all equal
regardless of our beliefs, our traditions, our
appearances, or our lifestyles. That is why we come
together in solidarity. Let us seize these next few
moments to remind ourselves that regardless of where
we come from, how we look, or whatever faith we profess or deny, we are children of God. We are all brothers and sisters. We mince no words or attempt to placate. Let it be unequivocally clear,
hatred and discrimination are anathema here at this university. These simple, fundamental facts. This university welcomes
and invites all to join us, Muslims, Jews, Christians,
and nonbelievers, in prayer as a sign of our bond of unity. Let us travel this life’s journey together as brothers and sisters. – Please respond to each
invocation of the litany. Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for I am languishing. – [Congregation] O Lord, heal me, for our bones are shaking with terror. – Turn, O Lord, and save my life. – [Congregation] Deliver us for the sake of your steadfast love. – The Lord hears the sound of my weeping. – [Congregation] All my
enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror. – Stir up your might and come to save us. – [Congregation] Restore us, O God. Let your face shine that we may be saved. – Ever loving and compassionate God, we come to you now, once again, with hearts that are filled with pain, with grief, horror, and
uncertainty at what has happened. We grieve for all those who have died as a result of this tragedy in the mosques of New Zealand. We pray for the medical
staff, the support staff, the family, the friends of
the people who have died, and of those who were injured. We also pray for all
survivors of this tragedy. Lord, grand them your peace that goes beyond all understanding. – We have gathered today to remember our Muslim brothers and
sisters who were murdered in this horrible terrorist
attack in New Zealand. Unfortunately, my community,
the Jewish community, is all too familiar with
this religious violence. Recent events have shown us
that hate, bigotry, and racism do not make any distinction
of religion, color, or race. We all remember in 2015, Charleston, South Carolina, nine African Americans were
murdered for being in a church. Only 16 months ago, on November 5th, 2017, on a Sunday morning, a man got into a Baptist church in Texas and killed 26 people who were
worshiping at this church. Only five months ago,
on October 27th, 2018, on a Saturday morning,
during Shabbat services, 11 people were killed in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue. And now, three days ago, on
a Friday morning service, 50 people were killed in New Zealand. Hate, bigotry, and racism don’t make any difference
between religion, color, or race. These people were killed on
their holiest day of the week, when they were in
community, praying to God. Last Friday attack has
to be called by its name. It was not only a terrorist attack, it was an Islamophobic attack targeting the Muslim community and Muslim immigrants
in a foreign country. Today, I stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters around the world and in our community. Mosques, synagogues, churches should be a safe place of worship where people can find the
presence of God in their lives and a deep connection to their religious heritage
and their community. Today, I pray to God to fill
our hearts with comfort. I turn to the eternal source of blessings, praying for strength to
face this horrible tragedy. Today, we ask you, God, to send comfort to the bereaved
families of this tragedy and to send a speedy recovery
to those who survived and are struggling
physically and emotionally. As we pray in Jewish tradition, I pray that we may see the day when a great peace will
embrace the whole world. Oseh shalom bim romav. May God who makes peace on
heaven bring peace to our world, and let us say amen. (“Psalm 71”) ♪ I will sing of your salvation ♪ ♪ I will sing, I will sing ♪ ♪ I will sing of your salvation ♪ ♪ I will sing, I will sing ♪ ♪ In you, O Lord, I take refuge ♪ ♪ Let me never be put to shame ♪ ♪ In your justice, rescue
me and deliver me ♪ ♪ Incline your ear to me and save me ♪ ♪ I will sing of your salvation ♪ ♪ I will sing, I will sing ♪ – Panic and pitfall have come upon us. Devastation and destruction. My eyes glow with rivers of tears because of the destruction of my people. My eyes will flow without
ceasing, without respite, until the Lord from heaven
looks down and sees. My eyes cause me grief at the fate of all the
young women in my city. I called on your name, O Lord,
from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea. Do not close your ear to my cry for help, but give me relief. You came here when I called upon you. You said do not fear. (“Psalm 71”) ♪ I will sing of your salvation ♪ ♪ I will sing, I will sing ♪ ♪ I will sing of your salvation ♪ ♪ I will sing, I will sing ♪ ♪ Be my rock of refuge ♪ ♪ A stronghold to give me safety ♪ ♪ For you are my rock and my fortress ♪ ♪ O God, rescue me from
the hand of the wicked ♪ ♪ I will sing of your salvation ♪ ♪ I will sing, I will sing ♪ – Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is
noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so
far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God. For it is written, vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord. No, if your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give
them something to drink. For by doing this, you will heap burning
coals on their heads. Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. – My friends, to love another person is to see the face of God. We’ve heard this and I’d
like to paraphrase it that to see another person
is to see the face of God. Several weeks ago, I was in the archdiocese
of Mobile, Alabama, during the time that the
tornadoes took place there, and as you read and heard at the time, there were hundreds of
people who lost their homes. There was mass destruction. And I went to one of the centers where people were being fed and cared for. At a particular center I went to, there were resident homeless people who actually lived there. And there’s a gentleman that I spoke with who had been a very successful businessman but had lost all of his
money and he became homeless. And I asked him, I said, you know, this must be really very hard. And I said, tell me, what is the thing you find most difficult? And he said something to
me that I’ll never forget. He says, the thing that
I find most difficult is nobody will look at me. Nobody will look at me, right? And since he said those words, as I walk around the streets of Manhattan where there is many homeless people, I make a point of making
eye contact with them. Because this is a human being. To see another person is
to see the face of God. After 9/11 in 2001, in
November of that year, I was going to Cedar Rapids,
Iowa, and on the plane, I was reading that the Islamic
community in Cedar Rapids wanted to build a camp for the children but the people in Cedar Rapids
were totally opposed to this because they saw every
Muslim as being a terrorist. So when I got there, I discussed this with the
people I was there to speak with and I told them what I had read, and they told me that
in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is the oldest Muslim mosque
in the United States, actually built in 1948. In 1948, the Muslims, the
Christians, and the Jews all came from Lebanon and they settled in Cedar Rapids, and the imam showed me the pictures. It was in 1848. The Muslims, the Jews, the Christians all were eating together. They were praying together. They worked together in the factories. They were together. And so, this imam, who
was a very young imam, had the black belt in karate, and I was speaking at an
event in the diocese there, and they had a mass, and there was maybe 2,000 or
3,000 people at this mass. So I invited the imam to come to this. So he comes, he’s sitting
in the first row there. And God as my judge, this was totally
spontaneous after communion. I said, this is the kind
of thing, by the way, if you had asked permission, you’d still be waiting
to get the answer, right? So I said, I’d asked the imam, you know, this is right after 9/11, and mind you, how people thought
about this in Cedar Rapids. I’d like to ask this imam, please come here and give us a blessing. And so the imam came
and he chanted in Arabic a section from the Quran
about the Virgin Mary. So after he finished, now, there was a couple thousand people. The bishop was there, other people. I said to the imam, stand right here. And so, he walked out with me and somebody in the first row started to sing the song,
Let There Be Peace on Earth. Somebody started it. And all of a sudden, it
picked up, the whole church. And everybody started to sing
Let There Be Peace on Earth. And what I saw happen that day, they began to look at this
Muslim as a human being. And what I saw happen on that day was that walls and barriers came down. And what was very compelling for me, this happened in the context of what we’re doing here right now. In the gathering and us coming together in solidarity with one another, in solidarity with all
of those who suffer, there’s a power in this and
there’s an energy in this. When we gather in this way,
we begin to see the other as a human being created and loved by God. You see, my friends,
to see another person, to see another person is
to see the face of God. (“Psalm 71”) ♪ I will sing of your salvation ♪ ♪ I will sing, I will sing ♪ ♪ I will sing of your salvation ♪ ♪ I will sing, I will sing ♪ ♪ For you are my hope, O Lord ♪ ♪ My trust, O Lord, from my youth ♪ ♪ On you, I depend from birth ♪ ♪ From my mother’s womb,
you are my strength ♪ ♪ I will sing of your salvation ♪ ♪ I will sing, I will sing ♪ ♪ My mouth shall declare your justice ♪ ♪ Day by day, your salvation ♪ ♪ O God, you have taught
me from my youth ♪ ♪ And to the present, I
proclaim your wondrous deeds ♪ ♪ I will sing of your salvation ♪ ♪ I will sing, I will sing ♪ – It is certainly difficult for a person to look at the tragedies
of the world today and not feel helpless and sad. But believers are told to
put their trust in their Lord and not to foul it with
despair or hopelessness. We must continue to do what
Allah has told us to do, put our trust in Him, perform good deeds, and (mumbles) weaknesses
for justice and truth. It’s not righteousness that you turn your faces
towards the east or west, but it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the last day, and the angels, and the
Book, and the messengers, to spend of pure substance out of love for Him, for your time, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves. To be steadfast in prayer and give in purity, to fulfill the contracts
which you have made, and to be firm and patient
in pain and adversity. And throughout all periods of panic, such are the people of
truth, the God fearing. – As-salamu alaikum, peace be upon you. This was the first word that the Muslim said to the
killer, to the terrorist, when he entered the mosque. He saw a man entering the mosque and he said to him,
as-salamu alaikum, brother, which means peace be upon you, brother. Dear friends, today we pray for the victims. We pray for the families of the victims. We pray for the Muslims,
for the Christians, for the Jews, for the nonbelievers. We pray for the entire humanity who is sharing and feeling the pain. There are reasons why these
kinds of events are happening. Lack of love, ignorance, psychological and social problems. But there are other reasons too. There is a trend now, not just
here in the United States, but in Europe and Muslim
countries all around the world. And this is why clergy,
politicians, academics, and everyone who will share something, who make a comment on their social media, should be more careful about
what they say, what they speak, what they like, what they share, and the message that they give. We all should be more careful
with any type of hate speech, bigotry, Islamophobia, antisemitism or any rhetoric that encourages violence. I will share three small stories. The first one, it’s about the Ward family. Joann Ward, 30 years old. She was attending church
services with her children when a gunman opened fire. Relatives confirmed that
Ward and her young daughters, Brooke, five, and Emily,
seven, were killed. And this happened on the First Baptist Church
in Sutherland Springs, the Texas church (mumbles) where 26 were killed and 20 were injured. Irving Younger from the
Tree of Life Synagogue. He was a very active member and he was the one who always was very friendly with his big smile and handshake. He was a guy that, when you walked in, he was the first person
that would meet you and help you find a seat. Sayyad Milne, 14 years old. He wanted to be a
footballer when he grew up. On last Friday, he was at the Al Noor
mosque with his mother. Al Noor means light and that’s because, in this mosque, you pray the first morning
prayer in the entire world. It’s the first place
where you face the sun. His father told New Zealand media Saturday that I remember him as my baby who I nearly lost when he was born, a brave little soldier. It’s so hard to see him just gunned down by someone who didn’t care
about anyone or anything. But I know where he is. I know he is at peace. It is reported that the funeral passed by the messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he stood up to respect it. But he was told that he is a Jew. And the prophet said
that, was he not a soul? So, dear brothers and sisters, we need to remind each other that everyone who has a soul, as Father Tony mentioned, is a sacred creature of God and every human being has the same value, regardless of their faith, of
their political ideologies. We don’t have to be a Muslim
or a Christian or a Jew to share the pain of the three stories. We don’t have to be from New Zealand, from Texas, or from
Philadelphia to mourn them. We just have to be human beings to mourn, honor, and remember them. I, as a Muslim and as a father, when I read that a three-years-old
kid was killed in mosque, and I have a son three years old, Jamal, which means beauty and he is beautiful, I am full of sorrow and
hope at the same time. Because the first ones to reach me and express their condolences were rabbis, priests, and pastors. And all of our friends
of our community friends, Christians, Jews, and nonbelievers, too. They reached out to
express their solidarity. And today, I am very touched
when I see this picture of the Sacred Heart family, and I am very touched that this is not the
only picture in the west, but we are seeing this in different places of United States, Canada,
New Zealand, and Australia. And the first feeling that you see is that we are a united, great family, as the Sacred Heart University who shares the sorrow and the pain. But we will continue our journey to build peace, trust, and a better world. God bless you all. (“10,000 Reasons”) ♪ The sun comes up,
it’s a new day dawning ♪ ♪ It’s time to sing Your song again ♪ ♪ Whatever may pass and
whatever lies before me ♪ ♪ Let me be singing
when the evening comes ♪ ♪ Bless the Lord, O my soul ♪ ♪ O my soul ♪ ♪ Worship His holy name ♪ ♪ Sing like never before ♪ ♪ O my soul ♪ ♪ I’ll worship Your holy name ♪ ♪ You’re rich in love and
you’re slow to anger ♪ ♪ Your name is great
and your heart is kind ♪ ♪ For all Your goodness,
I will keep on singing ♪ ♪ 10,000 reasons for my heart to find ♪ ♪ Bless the Lord, O my soul ♪ ♪ O my soul ♪ ♪ Worship His holy name ♪ ♪ Sing like never before ♪ ♪ O my soul ♪ ♪ I’ll worship Your holy name ♪ ♪ I’ll worship Your holy name ♪ ♪ Bless the Lord, O my soul ♪ ♪ O my soul ♪ ♪ Worship His holy name ♪ ♪ Sing like never before ♪ ♪ O my soul ♪ ♪ I’ll worship Your holy name ♪ ♪ I’ll worship Your holy name ♪ ♪ And on that day when
my strength is failing ♪ ♪ The end draws near
and my time has come ♪ ♪ Still my soul will sing
Your praise unending ♪ ♪ 10,000 years and then forevermore ♪ ♪ Bless the Lord, O my soul ♪ ♪ O my soul ♪ ♪ Worship His holy name ♪ ♪ Sing like never before ♪ ♪ O my soul ♪ ♪ I’ll worship Your holy name ♪ ♪ I’ll worship Your holy name ♪ ♪ I’ll worship Your holy name ♪ – In the name of Allah, the
beneficent, the merciful, praise be to the Lord of the Universe which created us and made
us into tribes and nations, that we may know each other, not that we may despise each other. If the enemy inclines toward peace, do thou also incline toward peace and trust God, for the Lord is the one that hears and knows all things. And the servants of God most gracious are those who walk on
the earth in humility. And when we address them,
we say peace, shalem. – [Man] Please rise and
sing our closing song. (drowned out by noise) ♪ To a place of celebration ♪ ♪ Filled with laughter, dancing, joy ♪ ♪ Came such violent devastation ♪ ♪ One man’s efforts to destroy ♪ ♪ God, we grieve for loved ones taken ♪ ♪ We lament, what can we do ♪ ♪ Now we’re feeling lost and shaken ♪ ♪ Heal our nation, make us new ♪ ♪ Weapons kill and so does silence ♪ ♪ Hear our prayer as we confess ♪ ♪ We have given in to violence ♪ ♪ We have bowed to hopelessness ♪ ♪ God, we’ve lost our sense of vision ♪ ♪ Of a world where there will be ♪ ♪ Plowshares made from violent weapons ♪ ♪ Justice in society ♪ ♪ Give our leaders strength for action ♪ ♪ Give them minds to mend our flaws ♪ ♪ Give them courage and compassion ♪ ♪ And the will to change our laws ♪ ♪ May we work for legislation ♪ ♪ That will curb guns’ awful toll ♪ ♪ God, renew our dedication ♪ ♪ To a world that’s just and whole ♪ ♪ Give us love to change our vision ♪ ♪ Give us love to cast out fear ♪ ♪ Give us love to speak with wisdom ♪ ♪ Love to work for justice here ♪ ♪ Give us love to welcome difference ♪ ♪ Love no hatred can destroy ♪ ♪ Only love can stop the violence ♪ ♪ Only love will bring back joy ♪ – We’d like to acknowledge
and especially thank the members of the Jewish community, the Islamic community,
and the Lutheran community from our neighboring places of worship who have joined us here today. We’re honored by your presence and we’re grateful that you’re all here as a sign of the solidarity
we share with one another. We’re especially grateful that you’re here to be a part of this beautiful
Sacred Heart community, our beautiful choir, and to see the face of
God in this community that we see each day. So those of you who are visiting, know that we look at you
as being a part of us, so thank you for being here. We hope that you all
will be able to join us for refreshments immediately
following the service now. Thank you.