Your topic for Advent: Islam

Granted, Islam is an unusual topic for Advent, the period leading to Christmas.

But part of the mission of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement at Graymoor is to improve interreligious understanding.

Starting this Sunday (and for the four Sundays of Advent), Graymoor will host a speaker series that focuses on the recent “Muslim Initiative” — a letter to the Christian world, signed by 138 Muslim leaders and clerics, that calls for a new era of peace and understanding among Muslims and Christians.

images1.jpegThere has been little reaction to the letter, officially called “A common word between us and you.”: The mainstream media gave it little coverage and most people probably don’t know a thing about it.

In short, the letter says that peace between Muslims and Christians is an absolute necessity for the world and that since both traditions emphasize love of thy neighbor, it should be doable. The letter says less about how to achieve this lofty goal or why things have gone badly until now.

It has a real introductory, “let’s get started” feel.

At Graymoor, each speaker will offer reflections during a 4 p.m. Vespers service.

The speakers will be:

* Dec. 2, Sister Anne Tahaney, a member of the Catholic-Muslim dialogue for the Archdiocese of New York.

* Dec. 9, Metropolitan Michael Yavchak Champion, presiding hierarch for North and South America of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

* Dec. 16, the Right Rev. C. Christopher Epting, deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations for the Episcopal Church.

* Dec. 23, me (Gary Stern, religion writer for The Journal News/ and this very blog.)

I have a rough idea what I’ll say. I’ll blog about it closer to the 23rd.

Graymoor is located on Route 9 in Garrison, just north of the Westchester/Putnam border.

For information: “”:

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.