Author: Mae Cannon

Ash Wednesday 2020: Lenten Reflections on Equal in God’s Eyes

Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes. (Esther 4:1-3)

The powerful imagery of this passage in the book of Esther reminds us of the trauma inflicted upon the Jewish community under the rule of Haman and his decree against the Jews. Haman was a high official under the Persian empire and King Xerxes, who convinced the king that the Jewish community was separate and not following the laws of the land (Esther 3:8). Thus, Haman recommended to the Persian King that the Jewish people be destroyed (3:9). If Haman’s argument was not persuasive enough, he promised the king ten thousand talents of silver for the royal treasury to sweeten the deal. Xerxes acquiesced and said, “Keep the money… and do with the people as you please.” Read more

CMEP’s Executive Director Responds to the Trump “Peace” Plan

Dear CMEP Community,

“They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14

Earlier this afternoon, the Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) staff gathered around a laptop in our office–just a mile or so from the White House–to watch the President and Prime Minister Netanyahu announce the much anticipated “plan” for Israelis and Palestinians. As I listened to the speech, I was devastated. I was heartbroken as I thought of all the pain, suffering, and injustice that this plan will perpetuate.

The plan presented by President Trump and further fleshed out by Prime Minister Netanyahu is nothing less than a recipe for endless oppression and injustice. Palestinians for far too long have suffered under Israeli military control, a reality which today was denied and ignored.

The proposed plan would further entrench the Israeli security establishment, ensuring that generations of Israeli young men and women will serve in a military tasked with continuing control of the Palestinian people. The inevitable result will be more human rights abuses, trauma, and violence.

This cannot stand. Read more

Persistent Hope: Easter Sunday and Liberating Hope

by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. (Matthew 28:6)

Easter Sunday is all about liberation. Liberation from death and the limitations of this world. Christ’s resurrection on the cross reflects the greatest triumph of Christian belief and tradition; death has not prevailed, for life has overcome. He has risen!

History is wrought with stories of contemporary struggles for liberation around the globe—from the black toil for freedom and autonomy in the United States; to Jewish realities of genocide and grotesque global anti-Semitism; to the present-day struggles between Palestinians seeking to“shake off” the physical bonds of occupation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza; and many other examples of people groups seeking liberation and freedom. Read more

Persistent Hope: The Holy Fire of Palestinian and Arab Christians

A Holy Saturday Devotional by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

Holy Saturday remains my favorite holiday in Jerusalem. After the evening of Good Friday and the darkness of Christ’s crucifixion, Christians around the world celebrate in the coming of Easter Sunday that darkness is not the end of the story. For light will overcome the darkness.

This year Western Christians (Catholics, Anglicans, and Protestants) celebrate Easter one week apart from our Eastern Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters. But the spirit of which we celebrate is the light of Christ prevailing over the darkness of the world. This celebration is symbolized most profoundly in the ritual of Holy Fire and Holy Saturday before Easter Sunday in the sacred city of Jerusalem. Read more

Persistent Hope: Enter Into the Darkness

A Good Friday Devotion by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

Few would argue the realities in the Middle East are riddled with darkness. Consider the minority and Christian communities in Iraq continuing to suffer from poverty and displacement after the violence of Daesh (ISIS) and other militant groups destroyed their homes and killed so many of their loved ones. The people of Yemen continue to suffer under a crushing civil war that has manifested itself in the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. The occupation of the Palestinian people continues beyond fifty years of military control of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. Refugees from Syria reside in makeshift camps in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, as they consider what it might look like to ever rebuild their lives again and have hope for a future for their children and their children’s children. The stories of pain and suffering throughout the Arab world could go on and on. There are many places where the darkness seems to prevail. Read more

Persistent Hope: Maundy Thursday & Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet*

by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

All over the world this evening, churches throughout the east and the west will host services to celebrate Maundy Thursday. The Thursday of Holy Week reminds believers of the Last Supper Jesus had with the disciples, and more specifically, his teaching them about the power of what it means to be a servant.

Jesus knew what was to come. He had loved the disciples and the world while he lived amongst them and John 13:1 tells us he “loved them to the end.” Christ’s ultimate act of love would follow a few short days after the meal, but his lessons for those who followed him were not yet complete. Read more

The Persistent Hope of Palm Sunday: Sacred City to All

It is interesting how Palm Sunday is often described as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. And yet, what was triumphant about this humble Jewish man riding down the Mount of Olives, across the Valley of Kidron, and into the Old City of Jerusalem? The people cried out adulations to him, but the praise of humankind was temporary and fleeting. For in the days hence, that very same crowd would turn their backs on Christ and instead release the convicted prisoner Barabas into freedom. How could Jesus ever be reconciled to his people after such betrayal?

Today the walk down the Mount of Olives is a glimpse of the multi-faceted diversity of cultures and Abrahamic faith traditions that call Jerusalem holy. It is also a microcosm of the contestations about land, historic ties to the Old City of Jerusalem, and the current political realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Read more

Persistent Hope: Never Alone

By Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

Over the past several weeks, the news coming from Palestine and Israel continues to be more than discouraging. The United States removal of the world occupation from the United States Human Rights Report of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) just seemed to be the beginning. Then on March 21, the Trump Administration recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights once again demonstrating the administration’s recklessly one-sided approach to Middle East foreign policy. On March 25, a rocket fired from Gaza landed in Israel injuring seven people; Israel attacked Gaza with military strikes. As if that was not enough, the United Nations reminds us that in the year since the beginning of the Great March of Return (March 30, 2018), 195 Palestinians, including 41 children, were killed by Israeli forces during demonstrations, including weekly protests near the perimeter fence, protests against the naval blockade, and other activities. Over the course of the past year, 28,939 Palestinians were injured as a part of the Gaza protests.

In the midst of escalating violence and such horrific tragedies, what does it mean to have Persistent Hope? Read more

Persistent Hope: For the Sake of Others

By Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

Miriam Shaar, a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, witnessed the discouragement in her community first hand. Living in Bourj el Barajneh, a refugee camp of more than fifty thousand Palestinian refugees outside of Beirut, Shaar knew the harsh realities of not having the financial means to provide for the basic necessities of life. The more than two million refugees in Lebanon experience significant challenges in their daily life. Refugees, particularly women, cannot find work. They often feel like they do not have hope for a future. Read more

Persistent Hope: Pray for Peace, Advocate for Justice

By Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

“Without justice, there can be no peace. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he would help perpetrate it.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

The great military war hero and president of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower once said: “peace and justice are the opposite sides of the same coin.” Often in advocacy work calling for the end of the occupation of the Palestinian people and in promoting human rights in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), we hear the expression “no peace without justice.” We also hear that peace is viewed with suspicion and distrust for Palestinians; while Israelis have a similar perception of the word justice. For many Palestinians, the word peace, and even more so security, often seems to be an excuse or a justification of the ongoing continuation of policies that limit their right to movement, justify military presence and occupation, control and limit access to resources, and other painful daily realities of living under occupation. For many Israelis, they fear the pursuit of justice condones a violent and militant response in Palestinian resistance. Read more

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