March 18, 2024

Dear friends,

Today begins the holy month of Ramadan for Muslim people. It had been hoped that today would also be the beginning of a six-week ceasefire in Gaza. The cease-fire was envisioned as a period of time to seek to release hostages on both sides and allow critical water, food, and medical aid into Gaza. But it didn’t happen. I don’t pretend to know enough about mid-east politics to say why it didn’t. But here is what I do know: Whatever the roots and machinations of the conflict, a humanitarian crisis is playing out in Gaza and in the West Bank. Thousands of Muslims and Christians (Palestinians) are being killed and most of these are noncombatants, women, and children, homes, hospitals, and places of worship are being destroyed, people are now facing starvation, exposure, and death by disease. Little children are starving to death because of forces completely beyond their control. The attack on Israel was horrific and unconscionable and rightly condemned.

Yet this current situation has been sitting heavy on my heart for months now. And with the psalmist my heart cries…

“…Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord. Lord hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.”

Psalm 130 is an anguished prayer to God to hear his cries as the psalmist lifts to God the iniquities that human agency (including the psalmist’s) has perpetrated upon the world. The psalmist is not trying to sugar coat the sinful human condition in any way. He is honest and repentant. And yet he lays his case before God fully trusting in a God who will meet him with forgiveness and mercy and with steadfast love. The psalmist is so eager and trusting that he likens himself to one on night watch, whose eyes strain as he fervently waits for those first few promising tinges of dawn in the dark sky he knows are surely coming.

Now it may be likely that you have prayed a prayer like this in a dark night of the soul. Whether it’s an individual sin you have committed or prayers you have lifted up for the collective whole of our death-dealing humanity. When you have and do pray such prayers, may you do so in the sure and certain hope that God’s mercy, help, and peace are already rushing toward you.

But today, and in that spirit, will you pray with me for the heart-breaking situation in Israel/Palestine using this recent prayer from the Mennonites.

O God of life and love and peace,
We witness the violence and injustice in your Holy Land
And our hearts break.

Our hearts break for the people of Israel—
For the victims of violent attacks by Hamas
For those who live with fear and insecurity
For those who suffer from the inter-generational trauma of violence

For those held hostage after all these months

For those who do not know their loved ones fate.

Our hearts break for Palestinians—
For the victims of violent attacks by the Israeli military or by settlers
For those being denied water, electricity and medical care
For those who are refugees, long displaced from their homes

For those whose land is encircled, whose water is seized, whose olive trees are destroyed.

Our hearts break for the people of Rafah—

For those who wait for an impending attack

For those who have been driven from their homes more than once

For those who struggle to find food.

We especially pray—
That weapons of war be laid down
That walls of separation be dismantled
That prisoners be released
That demonizing of “the other” cease
That political leaders seek the good of all people in Palestine and Israel.

O God, whose heart breaks for the world,
May your justice dwell in the land
May your righteousness abide in fruitful fields
May the effect of righteousness be quietness and trust forever
May the effect of justice be peace—enduring peace. Amen.

We have just observed the 4th Sunday in Lent as Jesus journeys ever nearer to his sacrifice of love for the whole world.

As ever in prayer,










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