Lectionary Selection: John 14:15–21
The following is a call and response prayer. It begins with a piece of writing from the website, When I Return. May is the month that the state of Israel celebrates its independence and Palestine the Palestinian Nakba (“Catastrophe” of 1948) that led to over 750,000 people being forcibly removed from their homes and land. The writing speaks to what it will be like to return not to ruins but a place of beauty shared. This vision reminds me of Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community. It is about acknowledging death and living forward into resurrected lives. I invite you to join me and our partner, the YWCA of Palestine, in its advocacy work for the Right of Return and its work for a Just Peace.
“When Palestine is liberated, I will race the wind to the old city of Nablus. I will plant olive trees on the free land of Palestine. I will plant trees so tall that when I climb them, I would see the beauty of Lebanon under the silver rays of the moon and the glory of the pyramids in Egypt. I will teach my kids that Palestine wore a cloak of deep sorrow through her life, but that only increased her beauty and strength. I will teach them that love that is cleansed by tears will remain pure and holy. I will take my children to pray in mosques and sing hymns in churches and contemplate in synagogues. I will sit next to the widow and comfort her, next to the orphan and fly a kite with him, next to an old man who lost a son and call him father. I will teach them that the truth is like a tree that lost one strong branch; it will suffer but it doesn’t die. Truth will suffer but it doesn’t die.” from Abdelrahm Hassan, Egypt
You have promised not to leave us orphaned
in this struggle for peace and justice
even when our trees are daily uprooted or burned
our children wearing cloaks of sorrow
pinched by chains of torture
even when hope seems dead
our keys too big to hold
our festive thobs threadbare
our homes rubble heaps
Spirit of Truth
the world cannot deal with
take root in our broken hearts
plant olive trees we can climb
give us free roads we can travel
to race the wind back home
help us strip off these 66 years of pain
find our garments tied together
in a shared destiny of hope
God of the basin and the towel
teach us how to wash each other’s feet
pray in the mosques
sing in the churches
sit next to other people’s loss
show us how to bend in service
rise for justice
become your advocates
the only truth.
Mission Stewardship Moment from Israel/Palestine:
Part of my work for the YWCA of Palestine is writing alerts or messages that go out to thousands of people. This year for International Women’s Day we focused on the women in our refugee camps who participated in the Fabric of Our Lives advocacy project, a project I coordinate and that our church supports. The YWCA has been working in Aqbet Jaber near Jericho since 1949 and in the Jalazoune Camp near Ramallah since 1956.
Because we have always worked with refugees it was natural for us to work with refugee women on an advocacy project. The Fabric of Our Lives project, begun in the summer of 2013, honors the stories of some of the women in refugee camps who remember what happened to them in 1948. I had the privilege of interviewing these women, of listening to them describe what it was like to leave everything behind or to be shot at by soldiers. It was heart breaking.
In the fall of 2013 we moved the project under our work for Rights for Women for Peace, Security, and Dignity. We came to see how these interviews gave us new insights into women’s leadership as we documented not only their pain and suffering but also their leadership in holding their families or communities together.
The project honors these women by creating dolls named after them wearing embroidered dresses of the region they are from. The embroidered thob is an important way for the women to communicate who they are or from which part of the country they come. The patterns and colors of the dresses all have meaning.
The following is a poem I wrote after researching embroidery patterns.
Patterns from a life or threaded with joy and pain
(names of motifs and patterns found in Palestinian embroidery)
Lupine and apple branches
tears next to lamps and jugs
waves and tiles
a heart branch reaches out and touches
a pomegranate flower, a tall palm
Sugar on a plate
a Kohl holder with roses
a coffee bean is repeated
a single bridal comb
a camel rider
Pasha’s tent touches
the moon and the
stars of Bethlehem
stars of Hebron
cypress trees mingle with citrus fruits
All celebrate life
where beauty is threaded with joy and pain
and worn for all to see
Our lectionary text this Sunday highlights the Holy Spirit as our advocate. But it also reminds us to be "ready to make our defense to anyone who demands from us an accounting for the hope that is in us” (1 Peter 3:15).
The YWCA of Palestine invites you to support our work and in particular the Fabric of Our Lives advocacy project by supporting the rights of refugee women and their families to have a dignified life until their rights are restored.
Call to Action: (from the YWCA of Palestine's statement, "66 Years of Waiting: Remembering al-Nakba of 1948; Resisting ongoing Nakba today."
- Support the YWCA of Palestine’s mission in continuing to empower women to resist economic, political, and social violence;
- Come to our international conference and pre-conference Witness Visit: “Women’s Freedom, Peace and Dignity in Palestine UNSCR 1325 for Accountability” 29 September to 1 October 2014 (firstname.lastname@example.org);
- Support the Fabric of Our Lives project by buying one of our dolls or advocating for the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees worldwide;
- Join with Palestinian Christians in their call for ending the military occupation of Palestine through morally responsible investment, boycotts, divestment, and sanctions
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Rev. Loren McGrail)
Mission Partners in Israel/Palestine:
- Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem
- Diyar Consortium
- East Jerusalem YMCA (Palestine)
- Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel
- 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:
Global Ministries Missionary in Israel/Palestine:
Rev. Loren McGrail, a member of Lyndale United Church of Christ, Minneapolis, Minnesota and an associate member of Wellington Ave. United Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois, serves our Mission Partner the YWCA of Palestine in partnership with the (Church of Scotland).