For liturgical Christians, candles on the Advent Wreath are part of the ritual of preparation for the coming of the Light of God’s Love into the world in the person of Jesus — the refugee baby born in a manger because there was no room anywhere else for his marginalized family.
This Advent, those sparks of light on the wreath have had a particular poignancy in the darkness of the violence, extremism, hatred, xenophobia and bigotry that has pervaded our national discourse and led the news cycle.
The darkness is real. And — as Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said — “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”
So here — in the service of driving out the darkness — are a few lights from the last few days. The first was this impromptu vigil opposing gun violence and Islamophobia held on December 4 in Ontario at our Diocesan Convention.
The second was this massive rally on the steps of the City Hall in Los Angeles on December 13 — a demonstration against violence and extremism hosted by Mayor Garcetti featuring interfaith voices and an overwhelming majority of Muslims from all over the southland.
And the third was this letter to the editor I just sent to the L.A. Times — which provided ZERO coverage of the rally.
On Sunday afternoon, December 13 I stood with hundreds of others on the steps of City Hall for an interfaith rally against violence and extremism hosted by Mayor Eric Garcetti. It was an extraordinary outpouring of commitment to overcome hate with tolerance; victimization with proximity; fear with love.
I personally spoke to a photographer from the Times who double checked the spelling of my name after taking multiple photos — none of which showed up in the paper where there was no coverage of this prophetic gathering of faith leaders — led by Muslims speaking out against terrorism, violence and extremism.
They were an incarnational response to the question, “Where are the moderate Muslims condemning terrorism?” The answer is “They were on the steps of City Hall on December 13 — but you’d never know it by reading the L.A. Times.” Which may just be why fewer and fewer people do.
The Reverend Susan Russell
All Saints Church, Pasadena
We can be the change want to see. Together we can make the light of Advent promise ignite into the light of God’s love for the whole world.
Susan Russell is the Senior Associate for Communications at All Saints Church, Pasadena.