Prayers, minds and hearts across the world were focused on the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel during an online ecumenical gathering hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) on September 14.
Reflecting on the week-long theme “Creative Solidarity in Common Fragility,” the special service included prayers, songs, and Biblical readings that reflected on the vital importance of realizing peace in the region.
Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, WCC interim general secretary, offered an opening greeting to the global ecumenical prayer gathering.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how fragile we are as humans as we work together to keep each other safe and healthy and alive,” he said. “As we pray together today, may the God of peace hear our petitions, not only today but throughout this week, as we stand together praying for just peace in Palestine and Israel.”
“The Gospel story is in reality a story of faith and commitment; a story of solidarity…” said Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac from the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem in his reflection.
“Could this be our role? Could this be our calling? In faith, courage, and relentless stubbornness – not to give up, until we bring hope and healing to those God calls us to serve!” he said.
Throughout this week, church organizations, congregations, and people of faith are encouraged to bear a common witness by participating in worship services, educational events, and acts of support in favor of peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians. The week culminates with the International Day of Prayer for Peace on 21 September.
Norma Carmi, a civil society worker on justice and peace issues, offered a prayer that held some pointed questions: “Merciful and loving Creator, what is happening to your beautiful world?” Carmi implored, and then she asked all those gathered: “Can you accept the challenge to spread the word of truth to the ends of the world with prayer for action?”
The service saw many contributions by churches in the Holy Land. Bishop Hosam Naoum from the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem opened the service in prayer. Psalm song was offered by Rev. Ashraf Tanous, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. The Very Reverend Emmanual Awwad, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, led the day’s scripture reading. The Lord’s Prayer was offered in song by a group of Armenian priests in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Very Rev. Fr Koryoun Baghdassarian, Chancellor, Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem led prayers of intercession with WCC staff members and participants from the Arab Educational Institute, from which a group of children also offered a heartfelt word of prayer: ‘Lord, we want peace.’