Lectionary Selection: Luke 9:38-36, (37-43a)
Prayers for Israel/Palestine:
Today, we ask for nothing less than to be astounded at your greatness!
The streets of our cities are raging with confrontations between angry, frustrated youth and hostile soldiers of the occupation who are ordered to shoot on sight. The nightly news graphically horrifies us with stories of how our whole region, indeed our whole world, is seized by forces of evil that maul, convulse and scarcely leave it. Neither the world powers nor your faithful disciples seem able to cast out the demons of conflict, discord and violence.
We have witnessed the glory of your beloved Son, your chosen, at Epiphany and in the Transfiguration; we have heard your command to ‘listen to Him’; but, nay, He was found alone.
Dear Lord, you are still speaking! So speak to us, open our ears and hearts so we may listen. Speak peace to the humanity you love. Rebuke the unclean spirits of fear, frustration, anger, pride, hatred, enmity and vengeance.
O God: Heal your world. Astound us with your greatness.
Mission Stewardship Moment from Israel/Palestine:
Headlines sent daily by a trusted news agency and received on my cell phone during the past few weeks have included:
- 23 bodies of youth killed by Israeli soldiers during confrontations at different points of the West Bank have been handed over to the Palestinian authority for burial;
- Two young men taking part in unarmed demonstration shot on site by ISF; fifty others injured;
- Israeli defense minister reports forestalling a Palestinian intifada by imprisoning would-be leaders;
- Occupation forces demolish 4 agricultural projects and a water well in the Aghwar, funded by a grant from the Italian [Waldensian] Church in 2013
- Sixty Palestinian going to work in Jerusalem were arrested at checkpoint for not showing evidence of having Israeli permits;
- Youth suspected of having a knife martyred by Israeli gunshot in Hebron;
- A man, 40, commits suicide in Central Gaza;
- A general strike called until 1:00 PM in solidarity with grieving families;
- A meeting of Palestinian business people in East Jerusalem disbanded by tear gas…
Details of some of these stories are gory. Unquestionably, some of those killed have been guilty of throwing stones at Israeli occupation forces; others were caught attempting to attack a soldier with a knife. Unquestionably, too, some of those killed were guilty of just being part of a crowd of protesters.
Since Christmas, rarely a day has passed without some funeral procession. New Year celebrations were quiet and mostly private; wedding parties were muted. Tourism is almost to a screeching halt. The general mood is somber. Life goes on in minor key.
These questions arise in the mind, and in conversations: How long can this go on? Will tire-burning, stone-throwing or knifings by hopeless Palestinian youth end the occupation? How is extra-judicial killing condoned by lawmakers, tolerated by courts of justice, and accepted by the world community?
Surely, there is a better way.
Dar al-Kalima University College of Art and Culture, and the Diyar Center in Bethlehem, an incarnation of a vision of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church and its pastor here, is proactively engaged in peaceful, positive resistance to the chronic occupation. Through specialized higher education, mostly for students living in refugee camps, empowerment programs for identity reinforcement, and hope-inspiring leadership development.
Vocal Israeli individuals and organizations, too, as well as leaders of religious communities and many people of good will, persist in pressing in the ways of peace with justice. Some world leaders, also, are giving signals that abuses of human rights and contraventions of international law cannot go on forever.
Our role here is to be, in every way possible, a presence and a witness for God’s love for all people. Thus, we are called:
to pray without ceasing,
to practice faith, hope and love,
to stand for justice,
to speak peace,
to resist oppression,and to overcome evil with good. We invite you to join us.
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Victor and Sara Makari)
Mission Partners in Israel/Palestine:
- Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem
- Diyar Consortium
- East Jerusalem YMCA (Palestine)
- Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI
- Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
- Friends Meeting in Ramallah
- Kairos Palestine
- Rawdat el-Zuhur (Palestine)
- Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (Jerusalem)
- Tantur Ecumenical Institute
- YWCA of Palestine (Palestine)
More information on Israel/Palestine: http://www.globalministries.org/israel_palestine
Global Ministries Missionary in Israel/Palestine:
Victor and Sara Makari serve as Missionaries with the Diyar Consortium of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Their appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.