Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Week after week in our Sunday liturgywe pass the peace of Christ which remains so elusive in Israel/Palestine and in our own hearts.
What we have seen and heard about the horrific attacks by Hamas are almost impossible to fathom and leave our words inadequate to express the shock and anxiety that infect these days.
We grieve for hostages taken, mourn for lives lost, and lament for the searing memories that may not heal in this lifetime. We perceive the dreadful fear of the innocent people of Gaza whose lives are already uprooted and who have no place to go. Hamas has built tunnels for war but not shelters for safety.
The complexity of the situation is numbing and there are no easy pathways to a lasting resolution. Palestinians and Israelis both yearn for peace, but the power of evil and the frailty of human beings press against these hopes and dreams. Israel has a right to exist, and Palestinians need a homeland.
We pray — fervently pray — for a de-escalation of the present conflict so that it may not spread throughout the Middle East. We pray that negotiations may lead to a just and lasting peace, forged out of accommodation and compromise, for no party will have the totality of what they believe to be right or just.
We know that there are many conflicting ideas about “just war,” “necessary war,” apartheid, “prisoners in our own land,” etc. These will continue. However, let us be open to the many-sided arguments and justifications being stated at this time, knowing that no one holds the whole truth.
Let us be wary of what we read on social media, in our favorite news outlets, and what we hear from those who are most likely to agree with us. Read and listen from different perspectives with “the ear of the heart.” People are hurting throughout the world, including us. Jesus spoke with people across many divides, and showed up in places where he risked humiliation and misunderstanding. He did so with mercy and compassion, while so many are now slinging arrows of antisemitism, anger, and destruction.
Jews and Muslims are on high alert in our own country, as hate has no boundaries. May we be voices of moderation and peace, not denying personal feelings, but serving as agents of Christ’s grace and compassion.
For now, let us follow the lead of Archbishop Hosam of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and other Heads of the Churches of the Holy Land, who are calling for an immediate end of the violence on every side, the release of all hostages, increased humanitarian aid, and renewed efforts for a just and lasting solution for the benefit of all who call the Holy Land their home.
We encourage all of us to join in the daily prayer that Archbishop Hosam has issued:
O God of all justice and peace,
we cry out to you in the midst
of the pain and trauma of violence and fear
which prevails in the Holy Land.
Be with those who need you
in these days of suffering;
we pray for people of all faiths — Jews, Muslims, and Christians —
and for all people of the land.
While we pray to you, O Lord,
for an end to violence and the establishment of peace,
we also call for you
to bring justice and equity to the peoples.
Guide us into your kingdom
where all people are treated with dignity and honour
as your children
for, to all of us, you are our Heavenly Father.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
A Prayer for Peace in Israel and Palestine(Sojourners)
Statement from Churches for Middle East Peace, of which The Episcopal Church is a member